Home worker or lone worker?
Ahead of the Lone Worker Safety Expo next week, Worthwhile Training’s Nicole Vazquez suggests employers need to be aware that their home workers are lone workers and should be treated as such, particularly when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.
Lone workers account for a substantial chunk of the UK workforce. The definition itself can be vague and straddle a wide range of vocations.
On the surface, the traditional lone worker might be the night time security guard, or the railway engineer working alone at the far end of a depot. Yet there exists another, less acknowledged category: the remote worker or home worker.
The rise in home working has mirrored the rise in technology. Robust broadband means employees can now check-in with the office from the spare room, coffee shop or just about anywhere with an internet connection.
Benefits to employers are obvious; finances improve as overheads like office space and other facilities are offset as employers provide their own workspace. Workers often report increased motivation from the flexibility that remote working offers, increasing productivity and staff retention.
However, like the railway engineer and security guard the home worker is still classified as a lone worker; something often overlooked by employers.
While a security guard is more vulnerable to extreme risk such as violence or aggression, a home worker can be more susceptible to an impact on their wellbeing.
Isolation and lack of contact with others can influence mental health and employers should perhaps think about treating their home workers slightly differently to those in the office.
Heather Beach who is speaking at next week’s conference affirms that employers need to be more aware of their home worker’s wellbeing. “I think managers don’t even think about the fact that some of the people they’ve got working for them actually need treating differently or they need better attention,” says The Healthy Work Company Director. “If you look at all the stress-factors, then it’s almost certain that most of these, to some extent, are going to greater for a lone worker than they are for people working in an office.”
The lone worker sphere is a large, incorporating technology, training and security. While the safety of the security guard is paramount to an employer, the wellbeing of remote workers perhaps deserves similar focus.
The Lone Worker Safety Expo takes place next week, Tuesday 10 October at No.11 Cavendish Square in Central London. Places are still available and you can register for the event here.
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