The onset of COVID-19 last year saw many office-based workers being allowed to work from home when previously employers had cried “it’s unmanageable”.

Over a year on and many workers are still working from home or working a hybrid of some days from home and some days back at the workplace. Both scenarios have their positives and negatives.

Many members have enjoyed the flexibility of working from home, of being able to set their times around caring responsibilities, school drop-offs, not having to lose time driving to and from work, no parking fees, and of course working in your pjs.

Members have reported feeling more motivated and productive.  Employers have also reported increased productivity and employees not utilising as much personal leave.

On the flip side, your home is now your workplace.  This brings its own issues in relation to work health and safety implications.  Do you have a safe space to work, an ergonomic workstation, are you able to “turn off” at the end of your workday or do you find yourself still working well over your hours?

The ASU has received many calls from members concerned over their employer’s practices in both these scenarios.  For example, members at one workplace have had all of their customer-facing shopfronts and all office-based employees were sent home to work. They reported an increase in productivity during this time and have allowed employees to remain working from home if they wish, under flexible work arrangements. They are now mandating a hybrid model with at least 2 days in the office.

Hot desking is a big problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, or at any time if the ergonomics don’t suit, and appropriate measures need to be taken by your employer to ensure that desks have been cleaned appropriately, etc.

There have been some employers who have decided to mandate that even if you chose to work in the office full time – you can’t. Outrageous! They have directed employees to work at least one day at home – again we are back to the issue of “is home a safe workplace”.  Is the employee at risk of family violence?  Is there even a desk to work from at home?

We have even had reports of employers monitoring employees working from home right down to their toilet breaks, requesting them to fill in timesheets for every 5 minutes of the day.

The one positive from COVID-19 is that it has highlighted that working from home is possible and it provides much-needed flexibility and assistance to ensure a good work-life balance.  We have finally moved into the 21st Century!

However, we need to be mindful of sneaky management tricks and work, health & safety issues both in your home and in the workplace.

If you have experienced any issues or have any queries, please contact your local Organiser.

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