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Providing employees with setting up a work from home office, Linda Ameur, SIGMA webinar, 15 December 2020


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Supporting paper by Linda Ait Ameur, Belgium, on providing employees with setting up a work from home office, presented at the SIGMA webinar on "Are human resource management practices resilient and agile enough to address the next COVID-like crisis?", held on 15 December 2020.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Providing employees with setting up a work from home office, Linda Ameur, SIGMA webinar, 15 December 2020

  1. 1. 2 Rue André Pascal 75775 Paris Cedex 16 France Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 24 82 00 This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union (EU). It should not be reported as representing the official views of the EU, the OECD or its member countries, or of partners participating in the SIGMA Programme. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the authors. This document, as well as any data and any map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. © OECD 2020 – The use of this material, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found on the OECD website page PROVIDING EMPLOYEES WITH SETTING UP A WORK FROM HOME OFFICE (2020) Linda Ait Ameur, Director HR and central services, Federal Agency for Nuclear Control, Belgium Why: What was the problem, what did not work? Why was there a need for such a solution? The mission of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) is to ensure that the population, workers and the environment are effectively protected against the danger of ionising radiation. The FANC is active in the control of nuclear installations, the safe transport of radioactive materials, medical and industrial applications of ionising radiation. In order to fulfil its mission, the FANC manages aspects of nuclear safety. The social importance of the FANC's activities is immense. With the lockdown due to coronavirus (COVID-19), all employees (150) started to actively work from home five days a week. Before the crisis, 64% of employees worked one to two days a week at home. Imposed remote work five days a week was perceived by some employees as difficult or stressful. However, the work had to be maintained for obvious reasons of safety (business continuity). It was important for the FANC, as an employer, to actively update policies to support employees suddenly working remotely on a full-time basis and develop a work-from-home setup to foster productivity as well as wellbeing. How: How were the solutions developed? The preconditions for remote work were already ensured. Employees already had a high-performance laptop, collaborative remote work systems, a headset, a smartphone with data, the employer’s participation in the costs of high-speed Internet connection and the various costs of working from home (notebooks, paper, pens). However, adaptations were needed, particularly because remote work was going to last. It was necessary to update the employer's homeworking policy by assessing good practices for setting up a home office and assessing the needs of employees on the basis of a staff survey. The review of good practices highlighted the following: - The most basic requirement for an employee’s home office, aside from a laptop, is an ergonomic chair (employees with an ergonomic chair report fewer negative symptoms). - In addition to providing employees a laptop and a chair, it is important to provide them with a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse, as this is more ergonomic and creates an atmosphere that is more like an office. - Another important element is providing employees with headphones with a built-in microphone for video conferencing.
  2. 2. 2 - Employees need their own high-speed internet at home, and this is something the employer should provide. This helps also keep data secure when transmitted to and from the employee’s laptop. - When it comes to working digitally, online tools are needed as they combine efficiency and effectiveness to encourage productivity. - There are other small items that can help employees to be more productive at home because they will help stimulate an office environment (e.g. desk organisation items). - Offering ergonomic recommendations to employees is very useful to help them set up a home office that allows them to remain productive. Further, a proper setup is crucial to help overcome different health problems. The results of the staff survey highlighted the following: The results showed that the specific context of generalised remote working required additional measures to make this new way of working more efficient and ergonomic (most frequent requests concerned a second screen, an ergonomic chair, a mouse and a keyboard, and advice on the workstation). The results also showed that 76% of the employees wanted to work remotely more often after the crisis. What? Description of a tool/solution Employees already had a high-performance laptop, collaborative remote working systems, a headset, a mobile phone with telephone and data subscription, the employer’s participation in the costs of high- speed Internet connection and the various costs of working from home (notebooks, paper, pens). In addition to this, a budget has been made available on the basis of operational savings linked to the crisis. Employees could benefit from financial intervention to equip themselves properly at home. The employer participated in the cost of purchase of an ergonomic chair (according to NBN EN 1335 standard), a monitor (24” to 27’’), a keyboard and a mouse. Employees also benefit from collective and individual advice to organise their home office (promotion of awareness and compliance). Apart from this, the following actions were undertaken to prevent potential health problems: - provision of information and training on health and safety issues relevant for employees working from home (e.g. ergonomics, working in isolation, general fire and electrical safety issues); - provision of relevant information about employees’ general obligations with regards to safety and health including taking care of their own health and safety; - on-going evaluation of home office and guidance on ergonomic conditions; - ergonomics and safety resources to change work habits and improve the physical home office; - provision of detailed advice and checklists on the ergonomics of individual workstations (desk height, screen position, use of mouse and keyboard, lighting, etc.); - intervention of the internal and external prevention advisors for the evaluation of home office ergonomics. What results: what were the benefits of the solution, how does it work in practice, lessons learnt 129 employees benefited from financial intervention to equip themselves properly at home. They also applied the ergonomic recommendations so that they could work more efficiently. This, properly planned, setup helped bring normalcy, wellbeing and productivity: the rate of achievement of operational objectives is in line with the operational plan; the number of inspections and authorisations has remained stable; radiological monitoring of the territory is carried out remotely; etc. The missions of the FANC are carried out by staff who have been able to reproduce an efficient working environment at home.