What every home-worker needs

Now working from home has become more the norm for so many people it’s produced some advantages and also some pitfalls.

The biggest issue for employers is that they still have a legal requirement to ensure that their employees have a suitable working environment.  That’s not just enough space on the kitchen table, but it involves compliance with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (amended 1992).  This outlines clear responsibilities for employees – and the employer is not absolved of this responsibility, just because people are working in their homes.

Companies need to pay attention to how people are sitting, both in sitting position and in relationship to their work equipment.  A chair that provides proper back support and a desk or table at the correct height for the keyboard and screen(s) are just the part of a proper workplace assessment.  Lighting, heating and all aspects of the working environment all have an impact.

Employers have a duty of care in relation to wellbeing too and it’s even more critical at this time.  Some people need social interaction and being isolated affects their mental health.

If employers don’t carry these assessments out, either at work or in the home office, and the employee develops backache as a result of poor office equipment or suffer from stress as a result of their current work situation, there are legal implications for businesses,

Keep it confidential

And woe betide the employer who hasn’t thought about the implications of working from home on GDPR.  It’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that home broadband connections are secure and that a laptop o home computer us dedicated only to work activities so others in the household can’t access confidential information.  It may be a good plan to install privacy screens that make the screen only viewable by the person sitting in front of it where sensitive data is being worked on.

Home shredders aren’t famous for being particularly robust, so if confidential documents need to be disposed of the employer may need to employ a shredding service that will collect document and shred them securely.

A year ago working from home was intended to be a temporary solution, but it’s not a temporary situation any longer.  In fact, both employers and employees benefit in different ways. 

In future employers can offer flexible working with full or part-time working virtually, now it’s been a proven success.  They can recruit more widely, not just within people who live in reasonable travelling distance.  Remote workers tick the corporate social responsibility box as it reduces the company’s carbon footprint with less travel.  In addition, it may be possible to reduce the requirement for expensive office space as fewer people are in the office at the same time.

Employees get back commuting time to spend with their families and don’t have expensive travel costs to fund.  It allows them the opportunity to blend their work and home responsibilities more flexibly, being able to collect the kids from school and attend events – while still getting the job done.

Changing demands

As an office supplies company we’ve seen a change in demand for stationery.  As companies embrace the paperless office, we’re selling less paper and this trend has continued as companies are using more and more digital documents to enable remote working.

With modern multipurpose machines that print, scan and copy, organisations are claiming back the space these big machines occupied.  As homeworking becomes the norm companies that do require hard copy documents printing out small printers may need to be supplied.

TIP: Check the price of ink cartridges before buying a printer.

Whether the printer is for office use or for home workers, in most cases, the cheaper the printer, the more expensive the cartridges are.  In fact, in some cases it’s cheaper to buy a new low cost printer than a set of cartridges!

If your printer is going to have a fairly high volume of use – choose a laser printer rather than an inkjet.  It will last much longer without problems.

While organisations are using less stationery as there’s no-one in the office to use it there’s been a new demand arising; home office stationery. 

While home workers no longer have to guard their stationery from marauding colleagues, a family of home-schooling youngsters can still be a threat to unprotected stationery!

I never expected to be asked to colour coordinate paperclips!  But this seems to be the latest trend – colour coordinated desks.  Sticky notes, pens, mugs, cute Sellotape dispensers, mousemats, notebooks and more.  These days your can get a wide range of colour options in most things.

High on the list of best sellers are environmentally friendly products and ergonomic equipment.

Office supplies aren’t just pens and paper – it includes signs, tradesmen’s tools, PPE, fire extinguishers, teas (even herbal) and coffee (instant and pods), cleaning products, clothing and more,

We love stationery!

Chandra Sharma runs Elmcroft Business Services and can be contacted on 0345 22 22 444 or email sales@elmcroftbusiness.co.uk

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