Working from home

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Awareness, Working from home, Workplace

How to provide for the hybrid worker

The future of work looks to be shifting to a hybrid approach. Many companies have already made the switch to a mixed model of remote working and office days. Employers have sought bigger office spaces to make work environments safer, as well as alternating office and work-from-home days. 

So, as the new hybrid worker emerges – or rather has emerged – what can you do as an employer to better provide for them?

Make sure technology and communication is consistent

One of the most important things to maintain with hybrid working is effective communication. In this day and age, we’re lucky to have so much technology at our fingertips to help with meetings, instant message colleagues, and share and edit documents at the same time. Messaging apps like Slack are made specifically for work communication and for companies with remote workers, allowing employees to chat, share documents easily and to call through the app. Whatever app you use, just make sure you stick to one. For virtual meetings, stick to one platform for this too, at least for your own business. Be adaptable when it comes to clients and customers as they may use other platforms.

Are you ensuring home workers are safely set up?

Did you know that employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for their homeworkers as they do for their office workers? The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has more guidance on this, but it’s all about taking into consideration your workers’ home environments and how suitable they are for the job. You also should be including home workers the same way you include onsite workers, meaning keeping them in the loop on social events (whether virtual or not) and general work communication to keep them motivated, feeling valued and to be able to do their job effectively. 

Work-from-home crate rectangular desk

With desk jobs and a poor office set-up, prolonged sitting is a significant health issue, so homeworkers need to have healthy and productive work stations at home. It all starts with a certified office chair. Make sure work-from-home seating is height-adjustable, with good lumbar support and ergonomic features that will allow workers to get the right positioning for good posture and to avoid eye strain. For homeworkers who may have limited space or unproductive home environments, work-from-home desks can give them a very productive and motivating space to get into work mode, whilst also providing a very good and healthy work set-up. 

Opt for larger office spaces and make them safer

Depending on your company size and how many you have in the office on certain days, you may need to upscale your office space to provide efficient social distancing. Air ventilation is also important. Natural lighting and windows are already features that workers very much appreciate, but now more than ever they are crucial to allow for better air circulation and comfortable work settings. Having your workers come into the office to be compacted in dark and musty environments is not only off-putting, but could get you reported for not following COVID-secure guidelines. If space is difficult or limited, social distancing protective screens can help, but if you do have the space, why not change and adapt to an open-plan layout or reorganise the work space to give more room for staff.

Keep mental health and wellbeing at the forefront

This pandemic has hit hard in many areas, from the tragic loss of lives to financial instability and isolation, driving a mental health pandemic in tandem. That’s why it’s so vital to consider your employees’ wellbeing and stress levels. The hybrid work approach allows for more flexibility, but the inconsistency can be an issue for some. When staff are working from home, make sure communication never becomes subpar, and when there are office days, that they are positive environments that help brighten up the working week. Social interactions are not to be undervalued or underestimated, so it’s worthwhile remembering that when moving to the hybrid work model. Make office days fun and maybe organise weekly or monthly online work quizzes or ‘memes of the week’ challenges – whatever can keep morale up.

Make the office irresistible

One thing employers have to contend with is the fact that many of their employees have gotten used to working from home and enjoying the flexibility that comes with it, including being surrounded by home comforts. The office now needs to entice workers back, so you need to make them as irresistible as can be; remind your staff of what they get in the office that they can’t at home. It may be the time for a fresh update. Whether it’s better office equipment, brighter walls, comfy office sofas, office pods, relaxation rooms, green office ideas, or hygge office design – the office can be the most productive and fun place. Just make sure you follow the guide to social distancing in the workplace.

Need to kit out your office with better seating, desking and equipment? Take a browse through our site right here at DBI Furniture Solutions, or contact our friendly, experienced team today!

Chairs, Working from home

Is your office chair certified?

How can you tell if your office chair is actually safe and well-made? There’s more to an office chair than how good it looks and how comfortable you feel. We’ve compiled the relevant legislation and British Standards that work seating should meet.

What is the UK legislation on workplace seating?

There are a number of regulations and acts workplace seating should abide by, including:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974: Because employers have a duty to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for their employees, seating at work should not be hazardous or endanger the health and safety of staff. Workers should know how to use them correctly with clear instructions; this means seating suppliers and manufacturers should make safe products that follow the British Standards 
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992: It is required under Regulation 11 that each worker has a suitable seat for work that must be done sitting – whether all of the work is done sitting or a substantial part of it
  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992: Seating is referenced when talking about the health and safety of DSE and VDUs (visual display units) with stress on how work seating should not be poor and should support eye levels, good posture and positioning
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992: This also gives guidance on handling and moving goods whilst seated 
  • Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996: This legislations requires employers to consult their staff, or elected representatives, on issues affecting their health and safety  
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998: Employers have a duty to provide working equipment that is maintained in an efficient and safe state with seating regarded as work equipment under these regulations
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: Under this legislation, employers and those self-employed both have a duty to assess risks to health and safety, including risks associated with seating. The duty holder must identify the measures that are needed to be implemented to comply with health and safety needs

What about working from home?

Home office workstation and office chair

We’ve seen a drastic rise in the number of homeworkers recently, but what obligations do employers have for their work-from-home staff? Well, they have the same health and safety responsibilities for homeworkers as they do for any other workers. That means checking in on them often, making sure their home working environments are safe and that they will not come to harm or injury from work-related tasks. 

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has guidance for employers on how to protect homeworkers and those who do lone working. They stress the importance of keeping in touch and supervising staff and to be constantly evaluating their risks. Training, supervising and monitoring should not be compromised, and as an employer, you still have to follow the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to manage the risk to lone workers.

When it comes to seating, task chairs need to be durable, safe and supportive of lumbar and posture. Just like office chairs, they should follow British Standards to ensure they are safe to work on.

The British Standards related to seating at work

So, what British Standards should work seating meet? HSE’s seating at work guidance has in its appendix the relevant British Standards to seating at work:

  • BS 2543: 1995: Woven and knitted fabrics for upholstery
  • BS 3044: 1990: Ergonomics principles in the design and selection of office furniture
  • BS 3379: 1991 (amend 2): Flexible polyurethane cellular materials for load-bearing applications
  • BS 4875: 2001: Strength and stability of furniture: Requirements for the strength and durability of the structure of domestic and contract seating
  • BS 5459: 2000 (amend 2): Performance requirements and tests for office furniture: Office pedestal seating for use by persons weighing up to 150 kg and for use up to 24 hours a day, including type – approval tests for individual components
  • BS 5852: 1990 (amend 2): Methods of test for assessment of the ignitability of upholstered seating by smouldering and flaming ignition sources
  • BS 5940: 1990: Office furniture: Specification for design and dimensions of office workstations, desks, tables and chairs
  • BS EN ISO 9241: 1999: Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs). Part 5: Workstation layout and postural requirements
  • BS EN 1335-2: 2018: Specifies safety, strength and durability requirements for office work chairs based on use of eight hours a day by persons weighing up to 110kg, assessing strength of materials, stability and mechanics
  • BS EN 1335-1: 2020: Specifies dimensions of three types of office chairs along with test methods for their determination

How to tell if your office chair is certified

Upholstery and fabrics on task chairs should come with an ignitability sign (normally a cigarette symbol) to show their safety and testing. Look for product details and specifications and if information isn’t explicit on their testing against British Standards, don’t hesitate to enquire. Many brands don’t list them, as it’s a general requirement for the products to be on the market. However, not all products have been tested and up to date, so do check. 

Fortunately, here at DBI Furniture Solutions, we are professionals and supply only the best and certified products for the most healthy and safe working environments, particularly when it comes to work seating.

Orthopaedica high-back chair with headrest and arm rests
Orthopaedica high-back chair with headrest and arm rests

Ousby task chair
Ousby task chair

Good office chairs should be ergonomic, meaning they need to be height adjustable, support lower back regions and alleviate pressure to encourage good blood circulation and posture. 

Head to our executive office chairs page to browse through our extensive range of high-quality, robust and safe task seating, and contact us for any questions or further info. 

Also check out our piece on the different types of office seating and their benefits for more details.