3. Stress and mental health
You must protect workers from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. This applies equally to home workers as any other workers.
Home workers will face many of the same issues as any other worker, but it can be more difficult to provide adequate support and maintain social links.
People who are deprived of social contact through work can feel isolated or disconnected, bringing on pressure and stress or aggravating pre-existing mental health problems.
Manage the risks of stress from working at home
There are practical things you can do to help manage the risks of stress and mental health problems for home workers.
- Talk openly with them about the possibility of them becoming stressed or mentally unwell
- Involve them in completing stress risk assessments so they can help identify potential problems and solutions
- Keep them updated on what is happening so they feel involved and reassured
- Have regular keep-in-touch meetings or calls so they can share any concerns
- Make home workers aware of any occupational support available to them
- Take account the needs of the individual – if someone is a home worker for medical reasons you may need to meet their needs differently
Talk to your home workers
Without day-to-day contact, it is harder to recognise symptoms of stress or mental health problems so you may need to build in additional opportunities to ensure home workers are safe and well.
Keep in regular contact with your home workers, as a team and one to one. Meetings should be accessible to all your workers.
You may need to review how the work is done to reduce any potential causes of stress. Talk to your workers to find out if they are facing any issues.
Those working at home can sometimes work longer hours, making them tired and stressed. Speak regularly about workloads, demands and training needs.
Encourage home workers to take regular breaks and use their annual leave. Make sure people aren't working too long to meet unrealistic deadlines or feel obliged to answer emails outside normal working hours.
Stress can build up over time and the causes can be work-related or from other issues. Whatever the cause, it's important that any worker gets help as soon as possible, and you should support them to do so.
Find out more
HSE provides guidance on managing stress at work. We also have talking toolkits that will help you have conversations with your home workers.