Whether its cutting the costs of expensive city office rents or staff retention or both, employers implementing “flexi roles” or “work from home days” can benefit from hot-desking.

Employers are also finding that with the ability to store documentation in the cloud and run business systems in the cloud – it is very easy for employees to work from home and those that do continue to work from home on weekends and in the evenings to meet project deadlines. Cloud storage has also reduced the amount of office space required for an office and enables “hot-desking”.

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, the right to request flexible working arrangements is an entitlement only for employees in certain circumstances, such as those who have the care of a child under school age, are a carer, are 55 years or older, are experiencing family or domestic violence or provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence. It is not a legal entitlement extended to the broader workforce.

But introducing “work location flexibility or work from home days” to most employees (e.g. those with 12 months or more service) can be a win /win for employers and employees.

“A lack of flexibility won’t be tolerated by a workforce that knows sophisticated technology and remote connectivity could enable them to achieve their workplace KPIs from any location. The reality is, we are already living in Australia’s future of work, and organisations must find a way to accommodate work/life balance needs.”    Latest research reveals work/life balance is the number one driver of attrition due to “long commutes, unachievable housing prices and expensive child care costs.”   Aaron McEwan HR Advisory leader, CEB. “Employees will leave companies that don’t offer flexible conditions: Study by HCA” 5/4/17

Nevertheless, there are workers compensation issues around the home office as highlighted in Ziebarth v Simon Blackwood (Workers’ Compensation Regulator)(2015) QIRC 121, a fleet service manager had injured his back in the course of employment when, rushing to answer his work phone at home, he had slipped and fallen.

He was required by his employment contract to be on call from time to time and had been given a mobile phone for this purpose. His employer had previously chastised him for failing to answer his phone and it was for this reason that he had rushed out of the shower when the phone rang and slipped on wet tiles.

Employers wishing to introduce flexible working arrangements are advised to establish a work from home policy and provide employees with a “work from home” safety checklist. Also, employers should check their insurance policies to ensure employees and company property are covered. It is also advisable for employers to check in with their employees from time to time to ask how they are going working from home to protect against psychological injuries.

 

By Amanda Rogers