Now it is a lot of employees working form home due to Covid-19. Below is some usefull information for you with managers responsibilities regarding employees’ work environment in view of the current increase in remote work
Insurance when working remotely
When working from home, the rules of occupational injury insurance apply. In comparison to work that occurs in the work place, a casualty from an insurance perspective when working from home must have a direct connection to the work that employees are conducting or will be conducting in the near future. This meaning an injury that you have acquired when conducting your work tasks. If an employee harms themselves when handling a hot beverage in their own kitchen during the workday, for example, this cannot be considered an injury at work even though it took place during specifically set working hours. If an accident or casualty occurs that is considered not to have had a connection to a work task, it should be the employees own private insurance that covers these events.
If or when an injury, casualty or incident occurs when working remotely, an incident or a job injury report must be done according to KTH’s routines. For more information:
Firstly, The Swedish Public Insurance Agency will assess if the occurred injury or incident should be classified as a work injury and therefore if the employee has the right to compensation from them. You can also report the incident and seek compensation from Särskilt personsskadeskydd (PSA) via AFA Insurance, who then also will assess the case. A person who conducts their regular work tasks in their home and has an accident, might be insured for job-related injuries through Särskilt personskadeskydd (PSA). This of course entails that the incident that has occurred has direct connection with the work being done, as stated above.
In case of deaths caused by the corona virus, they are covered by KTH’s employees’ life insurance policy (Tjänstegrupplivförsäkringen, TGL) as per usual.
The Swedish Public Health Agency has per March 16th, 2020, recommended that persons in the greater Stockholm-area that can work from home, do so. Were work activities and operations allow, employees should work remotely after consultation with their nearest manager.
Employees that work remotely from home will do so in continuous dialogue with their nearest manager. To ensure deliverances and completion of tasks as well as getting continuous information about the well-being and work-environment status of the employee, it is recommended that managers conduct daily reconciliations with their staff.
As an employer (manager) with on-going responsibilities regarding systematic work environment you are obliged to continue to:
identify risks in the working environment
do risk assessment (low, medium or high risk)
take measures to correct shortcomings and risks in the working environment
appoint the person responsible for implementing the measures
create an action plan for when the action should start (and sometimes end)
evaluate the measures taken (do they result in improvement?)
document the process
Employees are obliged to as usual follow working environment regulations, to point out risks and shortcomings in their work environment, to follow action plans created for work environment issues within KTH and to generally contribute to a healthy and safe work environment.
Lack of social interactions as a work environment risk when working remotely
The ability of adapting to working remotely can vary among employees. Working remotely places higher demands regarding independence, adaptability and flexibility on all employees. Working out of the office, from home, can bring benefits but for some employees it can also risk leading to feelings of loneliness, isolation or lack of motivation. For example, anyone who is not confident in using the necessary technical solutions or anyone who has a personality type in which contact with other people is important can be adversely affected. Working remotely can be connected to certain negative factors in the work environment that may not exist at the office. Common risks are:
A lack of a proper workstation. As the place of remote work may not be designed for static computer work, this can lead to an increased risk of strain injuries. Therefore, employees need to take frequent breaks as well as strengthen and stretch the neck, shoulders, arms, back, etc. through physical exercises.
A lack of proper lighting. As the place of remote work may not designed for static computer work, this can lead to an increased risk of strain injuries regarding eyesight etc. The computer screen should be positioned to avoid reflections and also so that the distance and angle between the eye and the screen are optimal.
A lack of social interaction. Due to collegial isolation, employees may run the risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, mental illness etc., which in certain cases risks leading to behaviours such as addiction and a hazardous use of substances.
Tips for managing lack of social interactions in work environments
To manage lack of social interactions, you as manager can organize your employees’ work according to the following guidelines:
1) Have a routine where all employees check in and check out every working day on a digital attendance list that is visible to everyone.
2) Ask all employees to open appropriate sections of their calendar for the manager and the closest working group so that you understand why, if you are not getting hold of the manager or colleagues and can see when someone is available.
3) Determine by yourself or together with the working group, which is to be the main channel of communication between you.
4) Have a daily routine for a common digital coffee break. Decide if it is ok to openly discuss how you feel and what strategies you are using to deal with your situation, during the coffee break. Also, agree to evaluate together how the coffee break works.
5) If a fixed digital coffee break daily isn’t possible, investigate if you can create a "virtual coffee machine" instead, i.e. a virtual meeting place where those who need to take a break at work can drop-in and talk to each other.
6) Evaluate if you have the resources to appoint a contact person for social and psychological support and counselling.
7) Maintain a routine in the working group for a joint digital meeting every day or every week. Set the agenda in advance.
8) Ask each employee to practice managing different digital meetings. Can more experienced employees perhaps instruct their colleagues?
9) Remind each other of the importance of maintaining a daily routine where you log in at regular time each workday, hold lunch hours and log out after the end of the workday. Remind yourselves of the importance of sleeping properly, of getting daily exercise and that the weekly wellness hour is available.
10) Consider how you as a manager need to distribute work tasks. Some tasks are better suited for working from home than others which means everyone may not be able to fill their working hours working remotely. Can you redistribute work tasks so that anyone who does not have enough to do can take over some assignments from a colleague who is under high working pressure? Remind your working group that a redistribution can never be completely fair and equal. Point out that a redistribution can also be positive, as it leads to the transfer of skills, skills development and sometimes business development.
11) Inform your working group about alternative digital working methods. Remind them of the possibility of using group calls for a maximum of eight people.
For more information.
12) Agree in the working group on common rules for digital etiquette, for example, in video conferencing and chat. Employees may have different opinions regarding this. Document what you have decided.
Employees at risk of substance abuse and mental illness
Employees at risk of substance abuse and mental illness may need individual action plans. As a manager, you can initiate creating an individual action plan for an employee /worker. An employee can also initiate the need for a rehabilitation investigation and an accompanying individual action plan.
When should the manager or employee contact occupational health services?
Occupational Health Care Services, Avonova
Through Avonova occupational health care, employees have the option of up to three anonymous visits per year without the company health care reporting to the manager or anyone else at KTH. These visits are billed to KTH centrally.
Managers and employees at KTH can also book digital meetings with Avonova. You can do this by calling or emailing Avonova and describing your matter. The experts at Avonova will decide which cases are suitable for digital visits.
Managers are obliged to take into account the specific risks of illness and casualty that can occur when employees work isolated in the workplace.
When planning for an employee to work alone in their place of work, the manager must consider the potential risks and plan ahead for the suitable preventative measures. Sometimes it can be enough to create possibilities for the employee to quickly and safely be able to get a hold of colleagues via telephone. In certain cases it is not possible for employees to carry out their work alone, please consider this when planning work placement and tasks. Solitary work in laboratory environments can differ from for example solitary work in an office space. In an office-like environment, a measure can be that the employee checks in through telephone (or mail or SMS) to their manager or other designated person, and that they check out again in the same way at the end of the day. They might also be in need of a certain selected colleague to be easy to reach during the day in case any work-related questions arise.
If solitary work entails a palpable risk of bodily harm through casualty, the manager has to take preventative measures so that the employee quickly can get help in an emergency situation. If acceptable security measures cannot be met, the employee is not to carry out their work unless another or person is present.
Minors are not allowed to be exposed to this kind of risk-filled solitary work.
Students are prohibited to conduct studies that include laboratory tasks when alone in any of KTH’s laboratories. Regarding employees and other co-workers, managers are to per usual conduct a risk assessment beforehand. In certain cases, the assessment will show that no one is to work alone in laboratories under solitary circumstances. Risks are apparent when working with corrosive, explosive and flammable substances. Sometimes, upgrading the security requirements are enough, but other times managers might have to stop the solitary work altogether. If anything were to happen, the manager responsible for health and safety at work has the responsibility that risk assessments were made beforehand.
Support for managers
You as a managers may also need support in managing new risks and problems that can arise. You can contact your
Managers can also contact experts at KTH's contracted occupational health care for support.
Managers can also discuss the working environment for employees with any of KTH’s designated safety representatives.
Does there seem to be a need for an exchange of experiences between managers? Perhaps it would help to create a digital meeting place for the exchange of experience between managers who are handling new risks and problems in the work environment.