Employee safety: Are your hybrid workers fully protected?

72% of the UK’s hybrid workforce is worried about personal safety at work

In a recent Peoplesafe study, hybrid workers reported the highest levels of concern about their personal safety at work (72%).

For many ‘at work’ now means splitting time between home and the office. According to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), a quarter of UK workers are now hybrid workers.

According to the Health and Safety at Work Act, it is the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health safety and welfare of all their employees. This legislation, passed in 1974, still applies whatever ‘at work’ looks like.

While a mix of home and on-site working is great for some, for others it can present a number of risk factors relating to stress, mental health and wellbeing:

  • Isolation
  • Lack of support and guidance
  • Increased responsibility and decision making
  • Inappropriate workstations
  • Blurred boundaries – both mentally and physically
  • Longer hours and lack of breaks
  • Impact on home life and family members

Hybrid workers who split their working time between home and another location face all the standard workday risks highlighted in the Peoplesafe report, including the commute to and from their out of home/work locations.

  • 60% feel unsafe on public transport at off peak times
  • 50% feel unsafe travelling alone to and from work
  • 65% feel unsafe working in an unfamiliar location

51% believe that their employer has a duty of care to protect them outside of working hours.

Employers extending their duty of care to protect all employees out of hours is a growing expectation. According to Peoplesafe data, businesses should be asking what systems are in place to protect their hybrid workforce.

At this stage, the HSE has only offered up post-pandemic guidelines for at home/hybrid working, so ignoring them carries no legal ramifications for employers, although ramifications may well be present in other ways.

Businesses may want to consider employee productivity, health and retainment as additional motivation, aside from moral obligation to give hybrid worker wellbeing appropriate focus. At a very basic level, this would involve checking in regularly with staff and making sure they are able to get to and from work safely and also able to work productively and safely in whatever environment they operate from.

What is clear from the stats, is that businesses aren’t currently tackling the personal safety concerns of hybrid workers, as we all learn to adapt to this new way of working.

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About the Author: Michael O'Sullivan