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Seven simple steps to help staff work from home

Just last month, Australian Public Service Commissioner Peter Woolcott stated that public servants should work from home wherever possible.

While each agency’s management of this will be different, our challenge as HR professionals is the same: how do we maintain the physical and mental wellbeing of staff, and help them bring their best to work – even if that work is now at home?

We’ve put together seven simple steps you can take today that can ease the transition for staff.

  1. Help staff identify what equipment is needed to reduce the risk of discomfort, pain or injury. Simple things like a headset or earphones can go a long way – as anyone who has ever tried to hold a phone between their ear and shoulder while typing will agree!
  2. Provide easily-accessible information so that staff can set up their own workspaces ergonomically. As with the above tip, this will help prevent all sorts of issues down the track. This should also remind us to look after our own wellbeing by following good practice.
  3. Offer strategies to prompt staff to take regular breaks; with fewer distractions around, it can be easy to lose time and forget to move and stretch.
  4. Encourage staff to follow their regular morning grooming routine, including wearing something work-appropriate. This will help them get into the ‘work’ headspace.
  5. Support staff to abide by set office hours, to avoid bracket creep. With commuting no longer an issue, staff may feel pressured to log on earlier or stay later; we need to caution against burnout.
  6. Help boost staff wellbeing by promoting healthy dieting and exercise practices; with no commuting time, it should be easier for staff to find the time to stay active. You can even try increasing engagement by making staying active (safely!) a friendly competition.
  7. Nurture an environment of open communication. Given the various impacts of maintaining physical distancing, it is more important than ever to remain socially connected. Even small things like a group chat or sharing jokes can go a long way to boosting staff morale. 

Lastly, consider this: while it’s true that our organisations are looking to us to manage their most important asset – our people – we must not forget this includes ourselves. We must ourselves be role models for healthy, positive work practices and lead our organisations by example. It’s in this way that we’ll be best placed to continue supporting our organisations and the Australian community.

Last reviewed: 
17 April 2020