Being an employer right now during the coronavirus lockdown is tough. Many have had to take the hard decision to furlough workers. Indeed, this week the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme started taking applications to support them in doing so. For those who are keeping staff working at full capacity, many have had to switch to home working without having had the opportunity to test the resilience of their systems. Of course, employers must look out for the safety, health and wellbeing of all their staff. But it represents a particular challenge in organisations which are not used to supporting workers using their home as their office. In this blog, we’re going to look at how employers can focus on home lone worker wellbeing.
Home lone workers may not be used to working rhythms
Before March 2020, it’s estimated that 1.7 million workers in the UK spent their entire working week based from home. A further 7 million or so worked flexibly and spent at least some of their time working at home. But with the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, workers are being asked to work from home whenever they can. Of course, this has meant an army of UK employees have become home lone workers.
The daily rhythm of working from home can take some getting used to. Many lone workers are reporting that it can be difficult to log on to remote IT systems when there is peak demand during standard office hours. Online meetings can be difficult to join with unreliable home broadband connections or slow home laptops. The discipline of working at home can be difficult to manage for many workers. Add in childcare responsibilities for children currently not at school, and home lone workers can feel as if they’re under a lot of pressure.
Working alone shouldn’t mean feeling lonely
Sometimes adding to the pressure is the sheer fact of being alone during the working day. At this time of self-isolation and social distancing, this can be even more acute for many home lone workers. The fact that they can’t just pick up their laptop and go and sit in a café or shared space to work in a different environment means that the pressures can be acute.
We’ve talked in our blog before about the difference between working alone and feeling lonely. Of course, home lone workers face a higher risk of experiencing loneliness by the very nature of their work. While working alone can involve autonomy and freedom, loneliness can leave workers feeling isolated and unhappy without the right amount of positive social interactions. Workplace loneliness directly costs the UK economy an estimated £2.5 billion every year. And lonely people are more likely to have poorer health outcomes more generally too.
Find out more about loneliness at Marmalade Trust
Find out more about mental health first aiders in the workplace Mental Health First Aid
Find out more about the Campaign to End Loneliness
Boosting home lone worker wellbeing using Safe Hub and other methods
Many people have complicated lives outside work, so it’s vital they feel supported in their workplace, even when that workplace is virtual. There are many ways for employers to check in on their home lone workers. Make sure your HR team can actively signpost employees to helpful and relevant resources. As well as formal meetings, why not schedule some more social catchups, for instance on a Friday afternoon. Consider a shared activity too, such as an online yoga class or virtual pub quiz. And why not use Group Alert on Safe Hub as a way of getting more light-hearted messages out there, too.
Looking after wellbeing in a work context can be tricky at the best of times. When you factor in the effects of coronavirus lockdown, employers must work especially hard to make sure that none of their home lone workers falls through the cracks. Regularly checking in on their welfare shows you’re being the best employer you can be. #HomeLoneWorkers #LoneWorkerWellbeing #AloneNotLonely #EasyToUse #LoneWorkerSafety
Contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today about home lone worker wellbeing, and how to use Safe Hub to support it.
Post by George Stavrinidis
George is Chief Executive Officer of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). He believes passionately that everyone should be protected and supported at work. George supports LWS clients to make sure they enjoy the most effective relationship with the team and maximise the effectiveness of their deployment of Safe Hub.