Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are required to conduct risk assessments to identify and mitigate workplace hazards.
This includes considering the risks associated with hybrid working arrangements if you have workers adopting this way of working.
With the rise of hybrid working, as an employer, you should assess the potential risks employees may face while working remotely or in a hybrid environment and take appropriate measures to control those risks.
This includes the general duty of care you should adhere to existing health and safety regulations that apply to all working environments, such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
Hybrid Working Overview
Hybrid working is a working model that combines remote work and in-person work in a flexible manner.
It allows employees to split their time between working remotely and working from a physical office or other designated workspace.
This arrangement provides a balance between the benefits of remote work, such as flexibility and reduced commuting time and the advantages of in-person collaboration and face-to-face interaction.
In a hybrid working setup, employees have the freedom to choose where they work based on their tasks, preferences, and job requirements.
They may work from home, in co-working spaces, or in satellite offices, depending on the needs of their role and the organisation. Communication and collaboration are facilitated through various technologies and tools, such as video conferencing, project management software, and instant messaging platforms.
Tips for Managing Hybrid Working H&S
Communication and Consultation
Maintaining regular communication with employees is essential for supporting their health and safety in a hybrid working environment.
Make sure that you provide clear instructions, guidance, and support regarding health and safety matters.
This includes keeping employees informed about any changes to policies or procedures, ensuring they understand their responsibilities, and providing channels for employees to raise any concerns or ask questions.
Regular check-ins and team meetings can facilitate open communication and allow for the exchange of information regarding health and safety issues and general well-being.
Conducting thorough risk assessments specifically tailored to remote and hybrid working situations is crucial.
Consider factors such as ergonomics, work equipment, fire safety, and mental health considerations.
This involves evaluating the home working environment, identifying potential hazards, and implementing appropriate control measures.
For example, providing ergonomic assessments and guidance to employees to set up their home workstations correctly can help prevent musculoskeletal issues.
Risk assessments should be regularly reviewed and updated to account for any changes in working arrangements or new hazards that may arise.
Mental Health and Well-being
Promoting employee well-being is paramount in a hybrid working model.
You can support mental health by fostering a positive work culture that values work-life balance, encourages work flexibility, and promotes open communication.
Providing access to support resources, such as employee assistance programs or mental health counselling, demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being.
Raising awareness about mental health issues and reducing stigma through training sessions or informational campaigns can also contribute to a supportive work environment.
Training and Information
Providing employees with appropriate training and information regarding health and safety practices is essential.
This includes offering specific guidance on remote and hybrid working guidelines and procedures.
Training can cover topics such as ergonomic practices, the correct use of work equipment, fire safety protocols, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
You should ensure that employees are aware of reporting mechanisms for health and safety concerns and provide clear guidance on how to address any issues that may arise while working remotely.
Equipment and Technology
You have a responsibility to ensure that employees have suitable and properly maintained equipment in a hybrid working environment.
This includes providing ergonomic workstations, such as adjustable chairs and desks, to support good posture and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
Remember to make sure that your employees also have access to secure IT systems and reliable communication tools for remote collaboration.
Regular equipment checks and maintenance procedures should be in place to address any issues promptly and prevent potential hazards.
Additionally, you can consider providing employees with guidelines on the safe use of technology and data security practices to maintain a secure remote working environment.
Further reading: Health and safety training for remote workers
Mitigating the Risks of Hybrid Working
Travelling for Business
When you have hybrid working employees that travel for business, you should implement check-in systems to track the whereabouts and well-being of employees during business travel.
App-based technology solutions, like those provided by Peoplesafe, can facilitate efficient check-ins and enhance employee safety and peace of mind.
These tools allow you to have real-time visibility and ensure the timely support and assistance of a travelling workforce.
Technology, Leadership, and Communication
Leveraging technology is crucial in maintaining psychological safety and fostering effective communication in a hybrid working setup.
As an employer, you should try to encourage the use of collaboration tools, shared documents, and project management software to enhance transparency, reduce misunderstandings, and promote teamwork among remote and on-site team members.
Effective leadership plays a central role in creating a culture of psychological safety.
Leaders should lead by example, demonstrating open communication, empathy, and active listening. They should also provide regular check-ins, offer constructive feedback, and support their team members.
Conflict Resolution and Celebrating Success
Proactive conflict resolution is vital in maintaining a healthy work environment, particularly in a hybrid setting.
You should encourage team members to address conflicts directly with each other, emphasising open and respectful communication.
You can offer support and guidance when necessary to facilitate constructive resolution.
Celebrating success, even small achievements, contributes to a positive work culture and motivates employees to thrive.
Hybrid working brings challenges that can impact employee well-being such as isolation, difficulty in switching off from work, lack of support and guidance, and communication issues.
By acknowledging and actively managing these challenges, as well as implementing mitigating strategies, you can create a supportive environment that ensures the well-being of your hybrid workforce.
Taking proactive measures, fostering open communication, and providing the necessary resources and guidance demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being and create a positive and safe working environment.
Whether you’re an early adopter of hybrid working or want to make a switch to a more modern way of working, our team here at Neathouse Partners can help you ensure your policies and practices are compliant with relevant employment and HR legislation.
Contact us at 01244 893776 to discuss your needs.