Yes of course.
But first, it is important to clarify some definitions. Many companies already offer the so called home office. It is beneficial especially for employees, as commuting can be avoided for 1-2 days a week and it allows a more flexible day-planning. The occupational health and safety profession says today that home office is no more than 40% of the working time, which is exactly 2 days in the case of an average 8 hour job.
There are currently no specific occupational safety regulations or requirements for home office. This also explains that currently only those companies have home office policy that have been required to adopt by the mother company abroad. If workers are affected by any kind of accident at home, there is no clear recipe in the current environment whether this home office accident is an accident at work or not . In most of the cases the nature of accident can be determined only with the involvement of a HSE specialist.
Distance work is a bit different from home office. This form of employment has just begun to be popular in Hungary. It can be mutually beneficial for both parties, as the employee is much more free to allocate his time and can save hours on a daily basis due to commuting; and the employer can reduce the amount of office space leased and the utility costs. Of course, this will bring new challenges such as software ergonomics or reduced live communication within the team; but it can be a separate topic itself.
In accordance with the Hungarian law, an important difference between home office and distance work if someone is working remotely more than 40% of their working time, it should be considered distance work. Distance working is not just about our home. If you prefer to work in a busy cafe, it is also distance working because you are not at your contracted workplace.
There are also distance work related safety specialties which should be taken into consideration by the employer and HR colleagues as well. If an employee is involved in an accident during his / her working hours, he / she will most likely be classified as an accident at work. That is why more and more companies are wisely building a complete process for the introduction of distance working and develop a policy that contains all the essential elements.
It’s a good idea to start the distance working process by thinking about who will be enabled to use this new form of employment. This is usually linked to the job types and to the location where the workers live. There are jobs where it’s easy to introduce distance working with only a few extra tools (a typical example is software developer or help desk jobs). However, there are also tasks where distance working may be physically impossible (eg. front office service type of jobs). Decision makers like to take into account the location as well where the employees are living. They like to prefer those colleagues who live far, because the company and the employee can save immediately a significant amount of time.
The next step is preferably a safety assessment of distance work sites. This means that the HSE specialist is going out to colleagues’ homes and examining whether the workplace is really suitable for safe work. An average home will be satisfying for almost sure, but there are can be some special circumstances what is better to know by the employer as well. This may be the case, for example when substancial amount of gas, oil, paint or diluent is stored at home due to the work of another family member (eg. car repair shop or carpenter). Or if you are sitting on a couch, working from a coffee table on a laptop without following the minimum ergonomic rules. Such factors can generate long-term problems that make it better to outline in a policy what a company considers to be a work accident in the case of distance work.
If everything is ready for the implementation, then there will usually be a test period for a few weeks or months with a few colleagues when the HSE specailist can closely check the processes, change the policies if it’s needed and prepare communication campaigns with the involvement of the responsible colleagues.
It is a good idea to hire a health and safety expert to write the rules and conduct on-site inspections, who can assist the company in shaping the entire process according to current laws and the latest market norms.