Is working from home is right for your business or undertaking?
PCBUs have duties under the model WHS laws to ensure workers and others are not exposed to risks to their health and safety, including when working from home. You need to be satisfied that you are able to put controls in place to eliminate or minimise the health and safety risks associated with working from home, as far as is reasonably practicable. Risk management involves identifying hazards, assessing risks, and implementing and regularly reviewing your control measures.
When deciding if working from home might be a suitable arrangement, in consultation with your workers and representatives, you should consider:
- if the work is suitable to be undertaken independently at home. For example, the time pressures of the job, the mental or emotional effort required to do the job and risks if mistakes do occur
- any preferences expressed by workers about working from home arrangements
- the level of face to face practical assistance and emotional support required (or provided) by the worker
- if communication with colleagues and clients can be effectively undertaken remotely. For example, if work involves sensitive issues or difficult discussion
- if the information needed to undertake the work is accessible and appropriate to be viewed at home. For example, complex databases that are not easy to manage from home, or access to sensitive or traumatic information
- any impact on workflows and clearance processes that might increase workload and time pressures. For example, where the progress of work is slowed, and deadlines are compressed
- the suitability of the home environment for the type of work being undertaken (e.g. the need for a quiet environment or particular IT requirements)
- the workstation set up and any special equipment required
- how safe working procedures would be implemented at home (e.g. avoiding long periods of sitting)
- mental health and wellbeing considerations, including the risk of workers becoming isolated from managers, supervisors and colleagues, and
- any impact on training and mentoring that might affect the worker’s development or performance.
These considerations will assist you in determining if working from home might be suitable for your business or undertaking, and your workers. You may choose to offer working from home for just part of a worker’s work time. You should schedule regular review points to assess the impacts of the arrangement, if changes to arrangement must be made to minimise risks, and if arrangements should be continued.