With more and more people working from home during the covid-19 pandemic, companies are having to enforce new rules for the workplace, even though the “workplace” may be the employee’s own home. Rules are needed to protect businesses from legal claims and ensure an orderly, positive work environment.
In the UK, Hammersmith and Fulham council have told their staff that ‘any part of a private dwelling used solely for work purposes will be required to be smoke-free’. Yes, the council has banned staff from smoking at their desks while at home. It is not clear how this rule is to be enforced, perhaps the council will send highly trained sniffer dogs to the worker’s homes.
Hopefully, the council’s legal staff are working on all the possible ramifications of this new situation. Let us try to help them.
Firstly, there is the matter of dress. Workers are expected to fully conform to the office dress code, right down to their feet. Shoeless feet, even if tucked well under the desk, will not be accepted. In the event of a heatwave, ties may be removed.
Unsuitable interactions between husbands and wives will not be tolerated. There is no part in an office environment for distracting behaviour between spouses. However, in accordance with common practise, office romances, that is to say romantic relationships between two people working in the same office, will be allowed.
The management understands that the long hours workers spend at the office make for a situation in which fellow workers are not just colleagues but are the main source of social contact. However, the management takes its responsibilities seriously and any worker found dallying with a female worker will be required to prove that she is not his wife.
Coffee breaks are allowed, but only with coffee supplied by the employer. Workers should not get used to drinking real coffee. Employers will be responsible for ensuring a smooth return to the office when the pandemic abates and do not want to create expectations that will not be met.
All Health and Safely rules must be followed to the letter. If you are not using a company issued pen, you must weigh your pen (kitchen scales are acceptable for this) to ensure that you do not get writer’s cramp. Check that the height of your chair is appropriate for the height of your table. (See www.chair_up for details.)
If you have a barking dog or a worker with a jack-hammer outside your windows your employer cannot help you. You might consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones, or perhaps a shotgun.