Commercial Insurance Profile – May 2021

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Health and Safety Programmes in a Flexible Work Environment

As vaccines continue to be distributed and the UK attempts to reopen, many employers are planning to continue remote work. A study of approximately 1,000 firms by the Institute of Directors found that approximately 74% plan to continue remote work policies that were started or expanded during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s important for employers to understand that they remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees, even if they are not working on the organisation’s premises. This includes educating and training employees on potential risks that may have become more serious while working remotely, or that they may not have been personally responsible for in a traditional work environment, such as:

  • Fire safetyEmployers may not be able to control physical characteristics of an employee’s remote work environment, such as building materials or wiring, but they remain responsible for at least educating their workforce on fire prevention and safety.
  • ErgonomicsIn a traditional office environment, employees may be privy to desks, chairs and other equipment that is specifically designed for extended use. However, those working at home may be using less optimal workstations. With that in mind, it’s important for employers to educate employees on ergonomics and the dangers of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Well-being and stressWhile many employees report enjoying working from home, there are also many who have said it has been detrimental to their mental health. Managers should stay in frequent contact with remote employees and should inquire about stress levels regularly. Employees may not be forthcoming about any mental health issues, so it’s important to be observant of all behaviour.
  • ElectricityEmployees may have had their workstations wired and set up for them in the physical workplace, but when working remotely, it may be up to them to arrange things. With that in mind, employers are responsible for educating workers on how to use electrical equipment safely. Organisations must also check equipment that is being provided to remote employees to ensure that it is safe and undamaged.

Global Poll Anticipates Reduced Business Flights Post-COVID

While organisations may be looking forward to getting back to business as usual, the coronavirus pandemic may result in some lasting changes for many employers. According to a YouGov poll of over 1,400 business travellers in the UK and six other European countries, 45% responded that they expected to be taking fewer flights than they did prior to COVID-19.

In the UK specifically, 56% of respondents said that they expected to continue to fly for work, but less frequently than before the pandemic. In addition, 4% said that they expect to no longer take flights for work at all.

This potential reduction in business travel can be attributed to a number of different factors, including:

  • Videoconferencing softwareRemote work has made organisations and employees more comfortable with conducting operations using videoconferencing. In the UK, 56% of those surveyed in the YouGov poll attributed a reduction in post-coronavirus flights to an increased use of this type of software.
  • Environmental impactIn September 2020, the UK’s climate assembly called for a tax to be levied on frequent flyers. Research published by Global Environmental Change showed that 1% of the world’s population caused half of the entire aviation industry’s carbon emissions in 2018.
  • Consistent productivityOf the travelling UK employees surveyed, 60% said that flying less during the pandemic has had no effect on their productivity. 12% said that they had actually become more productive.
  • Reduced costsFlying to business meetings is both time-consuming and costly. Employees travelling for work-related purposes may also lead to a number of additional expenses, such as lodging and meals.

While an organisation may be able to save time and money by finding alternative methods for reaching overseas clients and partners, it’s also possible that getting on a plane may still be the best way to handle certain tasks. In addition, certain employees may still function best when conducting business face-to-face. For example, while 72% of UK employees surveyed by YouGov said that flying less had had either no effect or a positive impact on their productivity, 28% said that their productivity had decreased.

It’s important for all organisations to assess their own situations and operations regarding air travel in a post-coronavirus world. For more information on these topics, contact your Konsileo broker today.

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