Understanding employee risks in a virtual workplace
EMERGING RISK TRENDS • 2 MIN READ
With many employees working remotely over this last year due to the ongoing pandemic, the shift to a virtual workplace has presented new challenges for some businesses. As companies continue moving away from the traditional work settings, now is the best time to reassess and mitigate work-related risks to remote workers.
From confirming business objectives to adjusting your processes and resource allocation, here are the key ways to prepare for new remote risks.
Conduct a risk assessment
Have your risks changed with virtual workspaces? As you assess and prioritize work-related risks for each workgroup, consider if these new remote-work locations will be short or long-term.
A few top concerns may include:
- Ergonomics – repetitive stress injuries from desk set-up, cords, and more
- Same-level fall – slips, and trips in the employee environment
- Mental health – stress and isolation compounding from the ongoing pandemic
Revise operational processes
To better understand and address risks, revisit your existing safety programs and strategies. What gaps need to be covered in this new workplace model? If the necessary programs do not currently exist, formalize an approach to assess and reduce risks to workers. While short vs long-term strategies may look different, it is important to treat employees consistently and effectively.
As you begin your strategic planning:
- Create an assessment or feedback process for your organization
- Develop a process to make decisions about resources
- Identify measures of success, e.g. number of touches to online help resources; the number of equipment/peripheral purchases
Adjust resources against risk
What can you do to limit risks for your workers? If you have accumulated real estate savings as a result of virtual work, consider reallocating that budget to employee safety. Provide easy access to resources for employees to get help during this unprecedented time, to eliminate cumbersome barriers to the process:
- Check and reallocate resources to support your remote-work strategy
- Develop a purchase/delivery process for equipment, furniture, and supporting tools, keeping ease of order process in mind
- Define methods to provide training and knowledge sources for workers
Consider the ergonomic and environmental risks associated with your employee’s virtual workplace as well. Environmental risks can include walking surfaces, stairs, and overuse of power strips and outlets in the home. Check our library of resources to help manage your team’s safety as you adjust to the new normal: