In the wake of the global pandemic, businesses worldwide adapted quickly, with many shifting to a remote work or work from home model. This has left lasting impacts, particularly in Australia where flexibility of workplace is now normal and expected in many industries.
This article provides a concise guide on what Employers and Employees need to know when navigating the world of remote work.
The Home Working Environment
When working from home, Employees should have a quiet working space that is free of distractions and be able dedicate their full attention to their job duties during working hours. A working from home arrangement does not permit Employees to have greater flexibility regarding their hours of work unless the Employer agrees to those changes in writing.
The foundation of effective remote or working from home lies in technology. Employees need access to essential hardware such as computers, webcams, microphones, and speakers, along with a reliable internet connection. Leveraging technology can also enhance productivity and maintain strong communication lines within the team.
Employers need to consider and ensure that data security, privacy and confidentiality are protected and maintained. The software that the Employer provides may need to be updated and changed to make this all work, or work better.
Employees also need to play their part and keep passwords secure, follow appropriate data encryption and security protection standards. Just like at the workplace, Employees should remain aware to and not access suspicious, unauthorised or illegal software, emails or content.
To work from home, the Employee must have appropriate equipment. We’ve spoken about computer related hardware above. You should also consider if other equipment is needed, such as a headset, phone, printer, additional monitor, desk, chair, footrest, first aid kit and fire safety kit. If the Employer provides this equipment, then the Employer will continue to own it and usually be responsible for maintaining it. The important topic of insurance also needs to be considered and covered.
The Employee should take reasonable care of the Employer’s equipment and keep it in a safe and clean place when not in use.
Employees working from home may be eligible to claim certain work-related expenses. These can include stationery, internet usage, heating and cooling and depreciation on home office equipment that they own. Employees should seek tax advice from their accountant and click this link to see what the ATO has to say on the topic.
Implementing Effective Work-from-Home Strategies
To maximise productivity while working from home, Employees should consider setting up a dedicated workspace, adhering to a regular work schedule, taking regular breaks, maintaining regular communication with their team, and utilising available technology tools. The Employer should assist in structuring and guiding the Employee and team to facilitate this.
Employers need to evaluate whether remote work aligns with their business values and service delivery. They should also consider its impact on Employee development, other Employees and whether it should be implemented on an ad-hoc, flexible or permanent basis.
Prioritising Workplace Safety
The Employer will retain workplace health and safety obligations even when the Employee is working remotely. The Employer and Employee should cooperate and to make sure that this is actually appropriate. Employees need to honest and transparent about whether it is suitable for them, in their home. Employers should have a clear work from home policy or flexible work policy and provide Employees with a detailed checklist that they must complete and provide to the Employer.
The Importance of Policies, Checklists and Inspections
Employers must have policies and checklists to cover themselves and Employees when working from home. It may even be appropriate to have a specific agreement for each Employee outlining the conditions for working from home or remotely. It helps everyone know what their obligations and responsibilities are. The policy and checklists should cover all items detailed in this article and obviously enable compliance with Workplace Health & Safety standards.
It should also tie into the existing policies, procedures and manuals of the Employer.
As we navigate this new era of remote work, it’s crucial for businesses to stay informed and adaptable. If you’re a business owner looking to transition to a remote work model or looking to improve your current practices, our team at Milicevic Lawyers is here to help.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in creating a productive and compliant remote work environment. Let’s embrace the future of work together.