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Implications of the hybrid work model on workplace safety

  • Written by Marcella Romero, CEO and Founder of Rehab Management

The past year has seen fundamental shifts in how Australians live and work. Recent research by Microsoft indicates that the future of work is hybrid – where some employees return to the workplace and others continue to work from home, or a blend of the two. This has considerable implications for workplace safety and it is important that employers ensure they are doing the right thing. Failing to do so can result in workplace injuries and increases in compensation claims.

In the study, 73 percent of workers surveyed said they want flexible remote work options to continue, while at the same time, 67 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams.i This presents a number of challenges for the workplace. At Rehab Management, two areas that we expect will require particular attention are employee mental health and ergonomics.

Employers still have a responsibility for employees working from home.

In terms of mental health, how do you ensure that you are across the mental and emotional wellbeing of your when there is less face to face interaction? How do you manage digital exhaustion, siloed teams and keep people engaged?

Lost productivity due to mental ill-health is estimated to cost the Australian economy between $10-18 billion every year, but on the flip side, every dollar invested into workplace mental health is estimated to deliver a return on investment of 5:1.ii

From a functional perspective, it is important to ensure that the workspaces of employees working from home is set up properly and that they have the right equipment.

How can employers manage workplace safety?

  1. Systematically check in with your workforce and offer support

A simple way to check in on the mental health of your workforce is via a regular mental health screening tool. One example is Rehab Management’s CheckInToday program, an easy-to-use online tool. As a leader this is fundamental to keeping my pulse on the engagement of my workforce.

CheckInToday is an evidence-based screening questionnaire that is completed by employees and the results are sent back to Rehab Management in real time. From here, they are able to formulate a tailored support program for each individual. Categorised into four tiers, the program can cover a range of wellbeing support services across physical, mental, social, health, lifestyle, work and study.

  1. Educate and communicate with your workforce

Employers should also focus on providing ongoing learning resources geared toward ergonomics, mental health and the additional support that is on offer to them. A simple way to start is via online learning such as Rehab Management’s Health-e Learning+ educational learning modules. These cover a variety of topics relevant to workplace health and wellbeing. The platform is evidenced based having been designed by Rehab Management’s team of expert Allied Health professionals.

  1. Address ergonomic problems before remote work becomes a costly risk

Companies may want to consider doing remote ergonomic assessments to help minimise the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. This may include providing required infrastructure like ergonomic chairs with maximum back support and height-adjustable desks.

Engaging a corporate health consultant, such as Rehab Management, can help manage this process and demonstrate that you have taken the correct precautions for employee safety.

  1. Engage a corporate health consultant

If this is not your company’s area of expertise, reach out to an expert in the field to ensure you are ticking all of the right boxes. It is important to ensure you and your employees understand and comply with WHS legislation. While it is impossible to know it all, there is help available.

Our team of highly skilled experts can undertake detailed ergonomic assessments and provide training to ensure your business is a safe and healthy workplace for staff. Adjusting the work environment to suit individual employee needs will reduce the risk of injury and lower overall health costs to your organisation.

Rehab Management is part of the Arriba Group, which recently was recognised as Australia’s #1 Innovative Healthcare Company #2 Best Place to Work (Health)iii https://www.rehabmanagement.com.au/

i Microsoft, 2021

ii SuperFriend, 2020

iii AFR Boss 2021

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