The HSE guidance for home working was written nearly 25 years ago. It might as well have been written a thousand years ago. It was written for another time, another community. It no longer has real relevance or bite. If the pandemic has taught us anything it has shown us that quite a lot of jobs can be done from home. We can work, meet, interact remotely with no real issues. There is no real need for that godawful commute. There is no need for the expensive shiny new office in the city centre. In theory we can perform just as good sat at the kitchen table. Are we as productive? Are we as innovative? Are we as motivated? Its certainly cheaper. Would we accept less money to work from home? Would we be happier employees? Blurred lines inevitably come to the fore here. Can I do some washing whilst I am working, can I put the dinner on? Can I take the dog for a short walk? Can I book a holiday or shop online? Can I have Sky Sports News on in the background all day? Can I make a TicToc?
A lot of people who worked from home recently managed to get that washing bin emptied every day, managed to hang it out to dry when the weather allowed and were up to date with the ironing. The Lounge had never been so clean even the TV Table was dust-free. There was a seemingly endless string of DHL, APC, UPS vans coming with stuff bought on the internet during work-time. Who knows? Who cares? As long as the work is getting done right?
The trouble is the work- station is not a proper work- station is it. It’s a kitchen table. So, would that have to be properly installed and PAT tested? What if my electrics at home are dodgy, has it got to be examined or tested? Am I insured to work at home? Does it invalidate any of my insurances?
If I am working and I take the dog out for fifteen minutes and accidently get hit by a car is that a work accident? How do you write the RIDDOR up? If I put my back out hanging the washing out is that a work accident? I was ‘working’ at the time. What if I am burgled and my work computer is stolen, who pays for that? Should my home have been assessed for safety and security?
If we are moving to a new era where home working becomes much more engrained in our working practices, where it actually starts saying in the job description that the employer would prefer the job to be done remotely, can they put that? Can they make me work from home? What if my housed is freezing and I can’t afford the heating being on during the day, do work have to pay for it so its 16 degrees? Do they just buy me a big coat.
Don’t get me wrong working from home is excellent for some people it really fits in with their lifestyle. It suits some employers to cut down on expensive rent and business rates. I wouldn’t mind it myself if the kids were back at school, university and college. Its just with the lack of clear HSE regulation I don’t want to be hung out to dry should anything go wrong.