Updated 15 December 2021.  (Published 29 April 2020). These instructions will be modified as required as we obtain further information on the COVID-19.

What does remote work mean?

  • Remote work is work performed independently of a fixed location or working time.
  • Remote work requires trust between the employee, supervisor and employer, planning and agreeing together as well as supporting the employee’s independent work.
  • Clear instructions regarding remote work should be provided at the workplace and they should also be updated as the situation develops.

Employer and supervisor

Develop remote work practices suitable for your organization and team that take into consideration the demands of work and the needs of the individual and the community.

  • Remote work policies and work arrangements should be based on the smooth flow of work, work performance and well-being at work.
  • In-office and remote work both have their benefits that should be utilized when planning working practices. Remote work does not have to be an either/or option. Make it clear which situations require physical presence and schedule them as early as possible
  • It is a good idea for the workplace to try out different alternatives, collect employees’ experiences and develop practices.
The following aspects should be considered when determining the appropriate work station for a certain task:
  • Where should the work be performed in order to ensure data security? Consider both technical and social data security.
  • Nature of the task: Joint discussions and development or independent thinking and concentration? Working simultaneously or at different times in synchrony? Can the work be performed online?
  • Skills: do people know how to use the tools for remote work, solve technical problems remotely and work as a group in a virtual environment?
The following should also be considered when determining the balance between remote and in-office work:
  • maintaining a sense of community
  • making it possible to look after your own well-being
  • employers’ duty to exercise care
  • anticipating and respecting preparations for co-operation events

Ensure work ability management

  • Allocate sufficient resources for HR
  • Ensure that supervisors contact their subordinates regularly, not only in matters related to the content of work but also in questions related to work arrangements, amount of work and stress factors.
  • Come up with ideas for low-threshold practices for communicating about well-being at work and detecting changes in work ability, such as regular personal phone calls, coaching discussions or short, repeated status surveys.
  • It is important to provide employees with clear communications about the work ability maintenance practices that should be adhered to, the forms of help and support available, the services offered by the occupational health care and the actions with which the employer can contribute to acquiring tools and improving work ergonomics, among other things.

Secure expertise and working conditions

  • Guide and support new remote workers when they start working. Pay special attention to ensuring that they get to know the work community.
  • Ensure that connections work, people know how to use the applications and that technical support is available.
  • If you use virtual modes of communication or arrange virtual meetings, make sure that everyone knows the related practices and how to use them.
  • Skills can be developed and maintained also in remote work by participating in online training.
  • Also note that time should be reserved for the adoption of new and changing work practices and instructions.
  • Discuss the functionality of the employee’s work environment (space, desk, chair, lighting, sound environment).
  • The employer’s tip about the right to claim tax deductions on work equipment (adjustable chair, a separate display and a keyboard) and home office expenses may turn out to be very useful.

Tips for supervisors and team leaders

Ways to maintain a sense of community

  • Agree on how you contact colleagues and how you support teamwork and shared tasks.
  • When logging into a virtual meeting, greet others.
  • If the meeting has many attendees, it is a good idea to say your name when you start to speak, especially if not all attendees are familiar with each other.
  • It is recommended to have your camera on, for example at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Adopt practices that support active participation and interaction.
  • Organize informal virtual meetings or use other digital channels for chatting. It is also important that there is a possibility to share good practices, solve problems and ask for help and advice.
  • Ensure that new members of the work community get to know other employees.

Ways to promote the flow and meaningfulness of work

  • Remember to give positive feedback that promotes working.
  • Discuss work tasks and goals to maintain the significance and meaningfulness of work.
  • Discuss and share experience of good practices of daily remote work to ensure the smooth flow of work.
  • Agree rules for being available and unavailable.
  • Communicate your availability by means such as applications’ status messages and keeping a shared calendar up to date.
  • Agree on meeting-free times.

 Ways to support coping

  • The monitoring of strain, workload and working hours and keeping them at a reasonable level are also important when working remotely.
  • Agree on ways to introduce “porosity” into working days to ensure that days do not turn into an uninterrupted chain of meetings. You can do this by making 45- or 90-minute meeting reservations or scheduling meetings to start at 15 past and not exactly on the hour. You can agree on breaks during long meetings.
  • Reserve time for transitions and breaks that support recovery during the working day.
  • Fair treatment, a sense of community, two-way communications, the meaningfulness of work and feedback on work performance boost well-being at work also when working remotely.
  • Reserve sufficient time for people management and low-threshold contacts.
  • Be visible in the channels of your work community and contact your subordinates actively.
  • If possible, hold walking meetings outdoors. Pay attention to safety when choosing routes and footwear.

Tips for employees

  • Plan your remote and in-office work according to the shared policies of the workplace.
  • Think about what kind of work station is most suitable for each task at hand.
  • Prepare for a day of remote work like you would prepare for a regular working day. Make sure that your equipment is in order and check the schedule for the day on the previous day.
  • Make it clear to yourself what you want to accomplish during the remote working day. Make a list of tasks and use it to monitor your progress. A sense of accomplishment also makes it easier to detach from work at the end of the day.
  • Ensure in advance that, even when working remotely, you have all the information and devices available that your work requires.
  • Agree with the people you co-operate with the times when you are available in a virtual teamwork space, by phone or by email, for example.
  • Remember to make sure that you also have work periods when you can focus on the task at hand without interruptions. Stick to your routine. Think about how you can best set yourself in work mode; for example, by taking a short walk before starting to work.
  • Plan your working day so that it contains a suitable mix of focused independent work and teamwork.
  • Change your posture regularly during the day.
  • Take lunch and coffee breaks.
  • Make exercise and stretching during breaks part of your daily routine. See what tasks you can do while standing or stretching. It is often possible to move around and stand during a meeting, which makes it easier to maintain your energy level.
  • Make sure that your home or your remote work location is sufficiently calm and that your work environment does not contain accident hazards.
  • Chart places where you can easily for stumble and trip as well as other potentially hazardous places. This enables you to reduce accident risks.
  • If you are working remotely with your family, make plans for how to conduct the remote working day and the related practices with the entire family.
  • Do not hesitate to contact your colleagues or supervisor even in small matters when you need new perspectives or help in carrying out your tasks. Determine the most suitable mode of communication for this purpose.

Risk and resource assessment of remote work

For more information, please contact viestinta@ttl.fi  

The guidelines of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) are drawn up together with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (SMAH) and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. We also follow the publications of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), COVID-19

World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus