Working from home safely

This working from home safely guidance applies to all staff in all job families who work from home either on an occasional basis, regularly or are employed as remote employees.

If you already work from home or are planning to in the near future, you should read this guidance and complete a Homeworking self-assessment form.

The University is committed to ensuring that all staff, regardless of their work location are healthy and well and able to thrive at work. Working from home can be a great way to work but we need to check that this will not cause you any detrimental health effects. Working with Display Screen Equipment (DSE) which is not designed or set up properly could cause unnecessary aches and pains and in some cases cause work related upper limb disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome. We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

We expect that staff working at home will generally be carrying out low risk computer-based or written activities rather than higher risk activities such as manual handling or laboratory work. If you are planning to carry out anything other than computer-based or written work, you should seek further guidance and approval from your line manager, Principal Investigator or Academic Lead based on your risk assessment and control measures you are putting in place.

Your ‘home workstation’ is where you choose to work when you are working from home. It is likely to be where you use Display Screen Equipment (DSE) which includes conventional desktop computers as well as laptops and tablet computers.

Computer workstations or equipment can be associated with musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and eyestrain. This doesn’t mean that working on DSE is risky as these problems can be avoided if you follow effective practice, set up your workstation properly and take breaks during prolonged use. It is your responsibility to set up your workstation correctly; you should follow the relevant guidance below to make sure your home work station is set up correctly.

Once you have completed this, you should complete a Homeworking self-assessment form for your home work station.

Guidance on your home environment in the immediate surrounds of your workstation is included in the guidance for setting up your workstation above.

There may be other hazards in your home. In particular, you should consider the following:

  • Tripping and falling: you are able to safely walk between your home work area and other parts of your home without risk of tripping or slipping, for example on trailing electrical cables, mats, uneven work surfaces, steps, pets or children. Use good footwear.
  • Fire: you are advised to have adequate fire detection in your home, for example smoke detectors (regularly checked).
  • Incidents: you should be clear about how to report an incident. 
  • Electricity: your electricity supply and any electrical appliances used while homeworking should be well maintained and regularly checked; you are advised to use circuit breakers for your electrical appliances.
  • Noise: the noise level in your home work environment should not prevent you from being able to concentrate and carry out your work.
  • Manual handling: manual handling should not be necessary while homeworking; you should take care when moving/carrying your laptop and setting up your home work area.
  • Harmful substances: it should not be necessary for you to come into contact with any harmful substances while homeworking if you are likely to, this will need to be risk assessed.
  • Lone working: this is not usually an issue in low-risk, office-type work but you should maintain regular contact with your manager and colleagues while homeworking. Read more about lone working.

You should note any hazards that you identify in your Homeworking self-assessment form. The self-assessment must be completed and approved by your line manager before homeworking takes place.

It is recommended that you take a 5 minute break from the screen in every hour; this could be a change of task such as to make a telephone call. All employees, regardless of their work location, are advised to take at least a 30 minute rest break for every 6 hours worked.

Further guidance is available:

To discuss your individual or team circumstances, please speak to your line manager in the first instance and then your HR Business Partner/Advisor for anything further.