Working from home

Working from home is becoming more popular in Australia. Many employers now allow staff to work from home, depending on the nature of the work. It can involve you working away from the main work site on a part-time or full-time basis. This arrangement may be temporary or permanent. 

Working from home requires a lot of discipline. It is helpful to follow the same routine every day. Get up, shower, have breakfast and start work at the same time as you would at your workplace. While you are working from home, tell others who may be at home that you have work to do. This will allow you to work effectively and complete your daily tasks.

Who can work from home?

It is up to your employer to decide whether working from home is available for you. Some types of jobs will not enable you to work from home. Some employers may not be comfortable with the lack of supervision when you are working from home.

Ask your employer if working from home suits the requirements of your job. If you have just started a new job, your employer may want you to complete a ‘qualifying period’ at the workplace before you start working from home. 

Benefits of working from home

Working from home can allow you to work at the times of the day when you perform better. It allows you to work around family, personal and medical commitments. There may also be fewer interruptions at home. Working from home may assist with managing your disability.

Allowing you to work from home may also have direct benefits for your employer. For example, it may mean that your employer does not need to purchase modified furniture, special equipment or software for the work premises.

Safety issues

Working from home is an extension of your workplace. Your employer could be responsible for any injuries that may occur while you work from home. If you are looking at working from home, you need to consider basic safety issues. These include:

  • ensuring that there is enough light in your work area
  • having adequate ventilation
  • working in an area that is not too noisy.

Your employer may want to conduct a work health and safety check before you begin working from home. 

Working from home agreements

You and your employer need to carefully plan your agreement for working from home. It’s a good idea to have this agreement in writing. It means you can be sure about your conditions of work, your responsibilities and the responsibilities of your employer. 

Your agreement could include:

  • who will purchase and install any equipment, such as a computer, printer or office furniture
  • who will pay for work-related expenses such as electricity, phone or internet connection
  • if or when you will be required to attend the work site
  • how and when you must ‘check in’ to the workplace, e.g. by phone, email or instant messaging
  • how you will get involved in regular team meetings or discussions with your supervisor
  • how you will get involved in staff training and development programs
  • how you will deal with clients if this is part of your job
  • how work health and safety and workers’ compensation factors will be assessed
  • your pay and leave entitlements
  • how and when the arrangement will be reviewed
  • how and when the arrangement can be ended.

Addressing these issues will help ensure that your agreement for working from home benefits you and your employer.

If you work for a larger company or organisation, staff in the human resources department may be able to support you in discussions about working from home.

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