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A framework for office equipment and remote work

Charles Brecque
October 9, 2021

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Whilst office equipment and desk assessments are ordinary topics for office workers, they are more important in the context of remote work because employers have less oversight. An office worker will be provided with the adequate space and equipment to perform their duties whereas a home office is usually improvised by the worker. Employers typically perform routine desk assessments in the office to monitor the safety of the workstations and the implementation procedures to protect confidential information. Performing desk assessments remotely can be more challenging. These are some of the aspects of remote work Employers need to be aware of which they’ll need to adapt to both practically and legally. This article provides an overview of key considerations when equipping your workers both for the office and at home.

Health and safety

No matter the size of your office, employers have health and safety duties to their workers. As a result, employers will need to perform a health and safety risk assessment before allowing employees to work in the office. A health and safety risk assessment will look for factors which can cause hazards and determine the likelihood of them occurring. For example, an office needs to have enough space for workers to perform their duties and identified hazards need to be eliminated or managed safely. If employees are likely to spend long-hours in front of screens, it is important that they are equipped with ergonomic office chairs and that office desks are spacious so that workstations can be properly organised. Employers should also make sure that the lighting does not cause eyestrain and can provide large screen monitors to make digital material more readable.

How to choose a desk chair?

Choosing the right desk chair is crucial for employee wellbeing in the office. There are plenty of options depending on the budget and the type of work which will be performed from the chair. There are ergonomic office chairs for sitting long hours available at office equipment retailers such as Rymans, Viking Direct and Argos.

What policies do I need for office equipment?

Office equipment such as computers and laptops are often provided to workers but in certain circumstances they might also bring their own to work. The employer might prefer the latter for consultants and interns if they do not want to stock and maintain a spare pool of laptops. Consultants and interns usually have a duty to the employer to hand over confidential material which might have been developed during the course of the engagement and remove it from their devices. 

When employers are providing electronic equipment, they should maintain a register of all the devices they own and have provided to workers both for security and safety reasons. This makes it easier to monitor compliance with PAT testing requirements and firmware updates. Employers should also have a policy to detail what a worker can or can’t use their electronic equipment for and provide guidance on taking equipment home.

Can office equipment be taken home?

If workers are likely to work from home on a more permanent basis, employers should be proactive about making sure they can work from home in the right conditions. Whilst a risk assessment can be harder to conduct on a remote and case by case basis, asking simple questions about space and working conditions can help the employer determine if the worker can work from home. An employer might want to provide office equipment for a home office such as an ergonomic chair, lighting and monitors or alternatively rent shared office space closer to the worker’s home. The employer should also provide guidelines and training to remote workers for protecting confidential information at home and helping them monitor their own mental wellbeing as the blurred lines between home and work can contribute to stress. 

Can an employer buy home office equipment for workers?

If the employer is purchasing equipment for a remote worker, it must be registered along with the employers’ office equipment as it will belong to the employer and will need to be returned if and when the worker ceases to work for the employer. Non-sensitive equipment like desks and chairs can usually be bought back by the worker at the end of their engagement but this will be at the discretion of the employer and on a case by case basis.

From a contractual perspective, employers should be proactive about equipment, confidential information, data protection and health and safety by using remote work clauses in their employment or consultancy contracts. Remote work clauses help manage risk and set the expectations of working from home but must be complemented with clear company policies and a channel of communication with the remote workers. Daily standups, team meetings, one-to-ones and social calls are all great ways to maintain the connection no matter where your workers are based. To create an employment or consultancy agreement with remote working clauses, sign up to Legislate and watch a tutorial.

About Legislate

Legislate is an early stage legal technology startup which allows large landlords, letting agents and small businesses to easily create, sign and manage contracts that are prudent and fair. Legislate’s platform is built on its patented knowledge graph which streamlines the contracting process and aggregates contract statistics to quickly unlock valuable insights. Legislate’s team marries technical and legal expertise to create a painless, smart contracting experience for its users. Legislate is backed by Parkwalk Advisors, Perivoli Innovations and angel investors.

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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