Home-based work is becoming a common feature of Australian workplaces. Following the shift to working from home during COVID-19 – and the staged return to usual workplaces – many businesses are adopting approaches that blend working from home and in the office.
Employers’ duties extend to workers who work from home or remotely, and they must take steps to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers.
Many of the tips and guidance on other pages of this site can also be applied to your home working environment.
- Ensure a safe workspace in the home with a designated work area, comfortable and hazard-free access, and adequate lighting and ventilation.
- Stay connected and supported – create an effective communication structure with regular check-ins, and team and individual catch-ups.
- Maintain work-life balance – define the workplace, avoid distractions and follow routines.
- Monitor absenteeism and incident reports and patterns.
Consequences of not managing working from home risks
- Physical injuries from home hazards – slips, trips, falls.
- Body stressing injuries from workstation setup.
- Mental health conditions from isolation and disconnection with the workplace, poor work-life balance.
- Increased incidence of injury and workers’ compensation claims.
- Higher absenteeism.
- Lower productivity.
Prevent and manage risks
Physical work environment
- Poor workstation set-up and physical hazards in the home.
- Inadequate lighting.
- Ensure furniture and computers are set up ergonomically and are suited to the task. Check that the workspace is free of clutter and trip hazards, and has adequate ventilation.
- Check the level of illumination and location of lighting fixtures are suited to the activity. Lighting level should be sufficient for visual tasks to be completed without eye strain.
View Comcare and Safe Work Australia guidance on managing work from home including checklists and tips.
- Isolation from managers, colleagues and support networks.
- Not having clear boundaries between home-life and work-life.
- Set clear work expectations
- Ensure regular contact with team and managers – maintain a dialogue around work practices and supports.
- Establish boundaries around work hours – friends, family and colleagues need to be aware of your work schedule.
View Comcare and Safe Work Australia guidance on managing work from home including information for managers and employers.
Comcare has a range of guidance to support safe and healthy home-based work:
- Working from Home guide for employees (PDF, 527.4 KB)
- Working from Home guide for employers (PDF, 608.7 KB)
- Working from Home checklist (PDF, 672.4 KB).
Further guidance is available from Safe Work Australia.