Flexible approach needs careful handling

Hot-desking and working from home may be good news for staff, but Shropshire employers need to consider the risks they could bring.

Dave Williams, said flexible working practices were transforming the way people do their job and they were becoming increasingly common.

“Working from home, hot-desking and bring your own device are all examples of how our work environment is evolving.

“For some job roles, technology now makes it possible to work seamlessly from anywhere in the world, and the pace of change is so fast, that flexible working is set to become the norm for 70% of organisations by 2020.

“But as well as potential benefits for both employees and employers, such a flexible approach also presents a number of fresh challenges for risk managers to overcome.”

Mr Williams said employers had a duty of care to protect employees from foreseeable risks of harm, and this applied not only in the workplace itself, but in all work environments including business travel and home working.

“Measures such as Display Screen Equipment workstation assessments will still apply, but they will need to be handled differently. All workstations, including hot-desks, should be adjustable to meet the needs of a wide range of employees – if a person is working from home regularly, you should also carry out a separate assessment for that environment.

“You should also keep records of all the risk management actions you carry out as evidence of how you are meeting your duties to your employees.”

Mr Williams said businesses should also discuss flexible working arrangements with their insurers to make sure their cover was still effective, and recommend employees check their own insurance arrangements as some household policies can restrict or exclude using the home for business reasons.

“If your employees are using their own vehicle for business travel, you must also check that it is insured for use beyond social, domestic and pleasure purposes.

“Flexible working can also bring a range of cyber and data security issues that will need to be tackled, and employers should have clear written policies on acceptable use and security procedures, as well as formally authorising and registering all devices that will be used outside the main place of work.

“Technology is opening up a whole new world of possibilities, but employers must put their business first and ensure they have the right strategies in place.”

  Dave Williams

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