Working from home in a train strike? Better call HR - The Telegraph

Summary

Nationwide chaos? For many, the rail strike is a blessing in disguise. As the stars gloriously align, gifting us industrial action, in a heatwave, workers have the chance to swelter on the garden bench, cocktail in one hand, laptop in the other. Employers might think they get to shirk their duties but they are not completely off the hook.

A legal firm helpfully reminded businesses they still have a duty of care over their employees. Entitled: ‘Do I have to work if it’s too hot?’, the advice includes providing: ‘a safe environment where staff are not at risk of falling ill from the heat’

Nationwide chaos? For many, the rail strike is a blessing in disguise. As the stars gloriously align, gifting us industrial action, in a heatwave, workers have the chance to swelter on the garden bench, cocktail in one hand, laptop in the other. Employers might think they get to shirk their duties but they are not completely off the hook.

A legal firm helpfully reminded businesses they still have a duty of care over their employees. Entitled: ‘Do I have to work if it’s too hot?’, the advice includes providing: ‘a safe environment where staff are not at risk of falling ill from the heat’

Hear hear. Those of us working from home this week will find ourselves in conditions perilous to the honest British labourer: 27C and not a cloud in the sky. In such a fraught and febrile environment, there is nothing for it but to dispatch our list of needs to HR.

An army is only as good as its kit. It is our duty as employees to make sure we are being provided with the tools we need to do our jobs.

When you go to the office, the basic expectation is that there will be printer paper, water, watery coffee. When you WFH in a heatwave, the expectation is that your employer continues to meet your working needs – cue the office sending out paddling pools, air conditioning units, sun cream, an ice bucket, a fridge for tinnies. It’s inhumane to sit upright outside so we’ll await ergonomic loungers. With a bit of willing, this could well be the summer when we finally normalise WFL – working from lounger.

Failing that, a chair at an angle of no more than 60 degrees is optimum. If you don’t know what that looks like, it should be difficult to tell whether the home worker has just had a snooze or is just about to have one. The paddling pool is needed for R&R at lunchtime.

As for IT, our little microprocessor friends help us; now it is time for us to return the favour and look after them. Ask HR for a chilled enclosure for your laptop, akin to a picnic cooler box. It will head off those warnings that pop up when the computer says it’s had quite enough of the heat, thank you, and would like a lie-down indoors instead. We should request a spare laptop while we’re at it, giving one a chance to unmelt inside while the other lets us get sunburnt during work calls.

The advice recommends ‘relaxing the rules around restrictive clothing, such as ties.’ Where’s the imagination? If you do not expect someone to be in an office, there is no need for them to be dressed for the office. It is time for corporate bikinis, Hawaiian shirts, kaftans, sarongs and linen suits. The element of surprise is useful in any negotiation; what’s more surprising than turning up to your Zoom meeting in nothing but shades, swimming trunks and a medallion, cigar in hand? (Flip-flops remain a sackable offence. You’re working from home, not working from Clapham High Street at 10pm after the rugby.)

Speaking of phone calls, none after 3pm, please. If someone bravely WFH says they are “on the other line”, nobody is to question what the “other” call might be, or cross-check the times against the CCTV records of the nearest Majestic.

None of the above comes without risk, especially if the heatwave lasts beyond this week. The NHS is also threatening industrial action this summer. If you conk out on your lilo there will be nobody to look after you. Heatstroke is not as inconvenient for the firm as it is for the individual. On the other hand, if your company wants to question your interpretation of your employment rights, it won’t have much luck either. The barristers are going on strike, too. This is the time for the home workers of the country to unite. If our demands are not met, we can stay at home and down tools. I wonder how long it would take for anyone to notice the difference.

Working from home in a train strike? Better call HR - The Telegraph
Photo Credit: The Telegraph

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