Friday Dec 02, 2022

Home sweet office – AV Magazine


A laptop perched on the kitchen table may have sufficed during the early days of lockdown. But now that most knowledge workers expect – or are expected – to work from home at least part of the time, they need something more professional.

“The newly normalised hybrid work format has changed the perception of the home office from a satellite workstation to a legitimate primary option for many workers, so it needs to be equipped to meet that standard,” says Michael Short, director of residential marketing at Crestron. “Home office workers need access to the exact tools they would have at the office, or else their productivity – and their perception of themselves as full and equal contributors – will suffer.”

To feel professional, homeworkers also need to feel separate from family and the home environment. “This will be unique to every worker but it’s absolutely vital,” says Gunnar Kyvik, business segment lead for meeting and conferencing at Sharp NEC Display Solutions.

“A dedicated room or garden office might be viable, or smart furniture in a bedroom or living room, or even rental of a local office hub. Ergonomics is also important – a supportive chair, height-adjustable monitor, appropriate desking, and so on. Perching on the bed with a laptop on the dressing table is not appropriate.”

Legally speaking a workplace is a workplace, whether it’s a plush office, a salesperson’s car or an employee’s home. “Employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for people working at home as for any other worker,” says Will Liu, managing director of TP-Link UK.

“Most of the time the risks will be low, but employers must be aware of them and protect employees from them.”

“Employers’ obligations are made clear in England by the Health and Safety Executive, including specific directives around working with display screen equipment (DSE),” says Stuart Lockhart, director of Vision Audio Visual.

“The HSE says employers should ensure ‘homeworkers can achieve a comfortable, sustainable posture while working with DSE’, and ‘any equipment provided is safe and suitable for use’. This applies whether the equipment and furniture are the worker’s own, paid for by the employer but chosen by the employee, or provided by the employer.”

Risk assessments
Employers must conduct a risk assessment of the employee’s work and workplace and review this regularly, and consider additional risks that homeworking can pose, such as stress and poor mental health. “Talk to your workers about their arrangements, as working from home may not be suitable for everyone,” advises Liu. “For example, some people may not have an appropriate place to work, or may prefer to come in to the office for wellbeing, mental health or other reasons.”

Terms and conditions
There can be legal implications, too, for both employer and employee. A switch to home or hybrid working may constitute a change to the person’s terms and conditions of employment, so it may be necessary to take legal advice. And employees should talk to their home insurer and mortgage provider or landlord, as well as being aware of any tax implications.

“It’s important to have a policy on homeworking that clearly sets out the obligations of both employer and employee,” says Liu. This should include the type of work that can be undertaken at home, whether a dedicated space can be set up in the home that is safe, appropriate and free from distractions, what equipment will be required, and …….


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