Article : “Home Office, H&S risks and the key role as a team leader”

Before the Covid-19 crisis, most organisations required employees to work on site. However, as the pandemic changes, the hybrid model – where employees work both remotely and at the office – is becoming more common

In the post-pandemic future, countless companies will be adapting to a hybrid work model, by combining remote and on-site working. What are the main risks associated with this?

This new way of organising work has many advantages: more freedom, flexibility, a better balance of professional and personal life, and lower costs in terms of transport, food, and so on. But teleworking also represents a challenge. Hybrid working, which has been or will be adopted by many companies, presents risks that must be managed jointly by everyone involved – employees, managers and the organisation.
These risks are, for example, linked to:

  • The environment: the risk of distraction; the risk of workstation unsuitability, which may expose workers to auditory, visual, or physical ailments; and the risk of social and professional isolation. By nature, teleworkers no longer share their workplace with colleagues and so risk losing their sense of belonging to a team.
  • In terms of working hours: a risk of burnout resulting from a blurred work/life boundary; and a risk of too much freedom, leading to potential difficulties in managing time and priorities, and so on.
    The potential information technology risk should not be overlooked either. By working remotely, the exposure and vulnerability to cyberattacks or data leaks is greater. Moreover, the dependence on technology is total, so it becomes necessary to learn how to make the most of it. This mode of work can be either counterproductive or very efficient and must be adapted according to the organisation.

    What key factors ensure a successful hybrid model ?

As with any system, its implementation is only one step. The most difficult and important thing is to monitor and adapt it. So it is important to define the operating rules in advance, to ensure that everyone has access to the necessary information, and a clear idea of the work to be done and each person’s roles and responsibilities.
Communication is also vital. So it is important for the manager to maintain regular individual and collective dialogue, with a five- to 10-minute video meeting with the team every day. These exchanges should make maintaining social links possible, but they should also encourage, maintain or correct certain elements through monitoring based on objectives and indicator-based results.
In addition, at times of teleworking, it is imperative to delegate and give autonomy to employees by setting up a working system based on a clear and common objective, and on trust, allowing them to take decisions without fear of error. This will empower everyone and encourage cohesion, transparency and commitment.

The employee is also the key player in their own safety and has a role in that of others through shared vigilance. So they must ensure that their working environment is well organised, with a clear delineation of work and free time, and isolation from noise and distractions in a room with a view of the outside where possible. It is also important to pay attention to workstation tidiness and ergonomics, with the chair, screen and keyboard at the optimum heights. And establishing a routine for the start of the day helps people to be more awake and focused when they start work.

Feedback to the manager and the human resources (HR) department, as well as regular dialogue, should make it possible to find an appropriate balance that satisfies everyone.