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How a Remote-First Company Can Benefit from ISO 45001

Four years after the pandemic, many companies still prefer to work remotely for many reasons, though the challenges for a remote-first company may vary. In this article, we will discuss how remote-first companies can support their workers, the challenges to employee health and safety, and the benefits of ISO 45001 for companies.

While working from home, employees are required to turn their homes into a place that allows them to complete their tasks without having to compromise their health (both physical and emotional), or even learn a new skill or an online tool to keep up with the work.

Remote Workers and Productivity: What Do They Need?

A few months ago, Atlassian published an article on what remote workers need to be productive, and what we read didn’t surprise us at all.

  • All people are different and have different needs in their everyday lives, and the same is happening in their work as well.

  • Some employees may be more productive while working from home while others may accomplish more when they’re in an office.

  • How the schedule is structured also has a significant role in the employee’s productivity as there are people who prefer a more structured schedule while others prefer a more flexible one.

  • All employers must keep in mind that it’s not really important if you have people working from the office, their home or even a coffee shop, the most important thing is to have well-structured policies that will help the employees' success and productivity.

Navigating the Challenges of Remote-First Workplaces

Companies transitioning to a remote-first model encounter a unique set of challenges. In a recent paper (John Wells et al., 2023) published in Sage Journals, the authors came up with 3 of the most important challenges a remote-first company has to face.

  1. Physical Impact: while working from home, many employees may lack proper ergonomic equipment which can cause a wide variety of discomforts such as back pain, neck pain, tension in the arm and hand, wrist, and shoulder issues. WFH has also impacted employees' vocal tracts causing dry throat and dysphonia.

  2. Psychological Impacts: Remote working has several impacts on an employee’s mental health. Remote workers appear to be less stressed and time-pressured, affecting their work-life balance as well. With lower levels of work-family conflict, employees are more engaged in their tasks and less exhausted, leading many companies to turn to a remote-first model. In some cases, WFH employees appeared to be more stressed but this issue was mitigated by proposing a hybrid model of remote working and working at the office.

  3. Health Behaviors: Turning to a remote working model, affects the individuals' health also. It was found that remote workers tend to spend more time sitting and physically inactive than those working from a traditional office set. Standing time and light-intensity physical activity were found to be lower for employees working from home, however, people with pets seem to be more likely to exercise. A decrease in parenting stress was found for working mothers who engage in moderate-intensity physical activity.

Navigating these challenges requires proactive measures and a commitment to prioritizing both the productivity and well-being of remote employees. By addressing these issues head-on, remote-first companies can create thriving virtual work environments conducive to success.

Tips for a Healthy Remote-Working Environment

Atlassian has also published a guide for employers with tips to support remote workers. Here are the tips they suggest:

Over-communicate

Use Slack to keep all employees up-to-date with important information.

Regular check-ins

Take time to schedule 1:1 check-ins with your employees.

The right environment is the key

Consider each person’s different needs and provide them with the necessary equipment.

Don’t forget the time zones

Remote working lets companies employ people from all around the world so be mindful of local time zones before scheduling meetings.

Write everything down

It’s important to keep all employees on the same page so take some time to keep notes and have a shared space for roles, responsibilities, etc.

Build virtual team habits

The easiest thing you can do is to start all meetings with a personal check-in to keep a sense of connection.

Emotional health is important

Burnout can be real so don’t forget to check on your team’s emotional health regularly.

Be transparent about what you’re working on

Update your coworkers on the tasks you’re working on or even an activity such as a lunch break, or a walkout in the sun.

Don’t forget they’re all humans and show some empathy

You don’t need to over-share things that you prefer keeping for yourself but be honest with your team to make them feel more comfortable.

wfh tips.png

How can ISO 45001 help with these challenges?

What is ISO 45001?

ISO 45001 is the international standard dedicated to the requirements for an occupational health and safety management system, providing a framework for organizations to manage risks and improve their OH&S performance.

It utilizes the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology, applies to all sizes of organizations, and can be combined with other ISO standards to provide an Integrated Management System.

Why is ISO 45001 important?

ISO 45001 is crucial for a remote-first company because it ensures that the company's occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system is up to par even when employees are working remotely. Here's why it's important and how a remote-first company can benefit from it:

  • Safety Assurance: ISO 45001 helps the company ensure that remote workers have a safe work environment, even when they're not physically present in a traditional office setting. It sets standards for identifying and addressing safety risks associated with remote work, such as ergonomic issues, home office setups, and mental health support.

  • Legal Compliance: Adhering to ISO 45001 demonstrates the company's commitment to meeting legal requirements related to occupational health and safety, regardless of where employees are working from. This helps mitigate legal risks and potential liabilities associated with remote work.

  • Improved Performance: Implementing ISO 45001 can lead to improved OH&S performance, even in a remote-first setup. By systematically managing health and safety risks using the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology, the company can identify areas for improvement and take proactive measures to enhance safety measures for remote workers.

  • Enhanced Employee Well-being: Prioritizing occupational health and safety through ISO 45001 fosters a culture of care and concern for employees' well-being, which is especially important in remote-first companies where physical distance may increase feelings of isolation or disconnection. This can boost employee morale, satisfaction, and productivity.

  • Competitive Advantage: Certification to ISO 45001 can serve as a competitive differentiator for a remote-first company, signaling to clients, partners, and potential employees that the company takes occupational health and safety seriously and has robust systems in place to ensure the well-being of its remote workforce.

ISO 45001-2018 - Blue Graphics-02.jpg

How can you use Confluence Cloud for your ISO 45001 OH&S Documentation?

Remote-first companies can use Confluence Cloud to support their ISO 45001 Documentation in several ways.

Confluence can serve as your centralized repository for all Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) documentation, allowing remote employees to access essential documents, such as OH&S policies, procedures, assessments, and records, from anywhere they might work as long as they have an internet connection. Some other benefits include:

  • Collaborative workspaces,

  • Version Control and Approval Workflows,

  • Training and Awareness,

  • Incident Reporting and Investigation,

  • Continuous Improvement,

  • Integration with Other Tools.

What is the ISO 45001:2018 Template for Confluence Cloud?

ISO 45001:2018 Template for Confluence Cloud is a ready-to-use space template that you can import to your Confluence Cloud instance and get started with your Occupational Health & Safety System. It covers all policies and processes required for ISO 45001 Standard and includes space templates to create your Registers.

How does it work?

To use our ISO 45001:2018 Template you need to have a Confluence Cloud license first. Then the steps are simple:

  1. Install the QC Template Launcher app to your Confluence site.

  2. Visit our online store to purchase a license for the ISO 45001 Template.

  3. Go to your Confluence site, and click Apps QC Template Launcher.

  4. Copy the license key that we sent you and paste it into the “License Key” field, click “Check”.

  5. Configure your new space. Give it a space name and space key, and click “Import”.

  6. Once the space is imported, you can start working on your OH&S System. The “Implementation Checklist” you will find in your space is your guide for all the customizations and modifications you will need to do to ensure the template suits your needs perfectly.

iso45001_implementationchecklist.png

Need further assistance?

We are always happy to help you and provide you with the necessary support so that you can implement your own ISO 45001 and get the desired certificate, so don’t hesitate to contact us for any issues or concerns you may have.

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