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Working from home safely and effectively

This guidance applies to all staff in all job families who are working from home. You should read this guidance and complete a Health and Safety DSE form

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 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 to make sure your home work station is set up correctly. 

Once you have completed this, you should complete a DSE form for your home work station.

Please ensure you inform your line manager of what you have equipment you have taken home.

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

Connecting to IT systems, like email, from home is essential for staff who work at home. This ability to connect can make the boundaries between ‘working’ and ‘not working’ more fluid. This has benefits for work-life balance but can also be detrimental if not managed well. You should be mindful of this and disconnect from work systems outside of your working hours.

There may be exceptional circumstances where you need to remain connected but this should be the exception rather than standard practice.

All employees are advised to take at least a 30 minute rest break for every 6 hours worked. Many staff working from home forget or choose not to take a break but this is not advised as it can affect your health and your productivity. 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.

It is important to establish a work schedule when working from home. Many homeworkers find that they work long hours as there is no clear signal to the end of the day. It is important to set yourself time limits so that you do not find it difficult to end your day.

Staff should usually be available for contact by telephone, email, teams as normal during their working day.

Staff must always make it clear to colleagues where they are working and how best to contact them.  Keeping your Outlook calendar and Teams status up to date and sharing this as widely as possible is good practice.

Ensure you have regular updates/chats from your manager and your team, working from home can be lonely. Please see the keeping healthy and productive sway article on your wellbeing.

If you are planning to work from home but are sick, you should report this promptly in the usual way following the sickness absence guidance.

Employees who were not planning to work from home but report that they are sick, should not choose or be expected to work from home instead of coming in to work. It is important to rest from work.

There are some situations where working from home is advised during a phased return from a long term sickness absence. You should seek advice from Occupational Health in these circumstances.

It is not appropriate to combine homeworking with dependent care and homeworking is not an alternative to paid dependent care. You must not plan to have sole responsibility for a child or other dependent during your working hours.