Managing fire safety when most of your staff work from home

4 April 2023

Since the beginning of the pandemic, remote and hybrid working has become increasingly popular, and the increase in these work practices is set to continue. A recent survey found that a huge 52% of workers now combine working remotely with being on site.

With this however, comes added fire safety risks – it’s likely that many offices and buildings will have far fewer staff on-site at any one time resulting in office moves and layout changes, and some may now even be completely unoccupied.

This means reviewing important safety aspects such as fire risk assessments and evacuation procedures is essential in order to maintain compliance. 

Here we cover some of the main ways you can manage workplace fire safety in a hybrid working world:

Office fire risk assessments

If you have made any significant changes to company policies or the office environment, conducting a new fire risk assessment is the best way to ensure your fire safety procedures and policies are completely up to date. A competent and experienced fire risk assessor will give you clear direction and actions to complete that are completely bespoke to your workplace. 

Not only will a fire risk assessment help you identify potential hazards and keep employees safe in the event of a fire, it can also help you avoid legal action and costly expenses. It’s easy to become complacent when working from home, so make this a priority when managing fire safety. 

Fire safety training

Even if employees are working remotely part of the time, it’s important to ensure that everyone is familiar with fire safety procedures and knows what to do in case of an emergency. Regular fire safety training should be conducted for all employees, including those who are working from home. This could be in the form of online training or virtual fire drills which involve simulating a fire and testing your staff’s knowledge of the fire safety procedures they’ll need to know when they do come into the office.

Reviewing and communicating fire safety protocols is especially important if you have a recently updated fire risk assessment, and new fire safety procedures in place. These must be clearly communicated to all employees.

Appointed Fire Marshals

As a general rule, all businesses should have designated fire wardens / marshals who are responsible (amongst other things) for making sure everyone evacuates the building in a safe and timely manner, and visually searching the area to ensure no one is left inside. 

The number of fire marshals will vary from business to business depending on various factors, but remember that even with new hybrid working models, it is essential that at least one fire marshal is present in the office every day to ensure the safety of your employees. 

Know where your responsibilities lie

If you have recently moved office, or rented out a new space, be sure to familiarise yourself with who is responsible for the building’s fire safety. This may well be the responsibility of the building (for example the facilities manager) as opposed to your company, so it’s important to find this out ASAP and act accordingly. 

You may also be wondering who is responsible for fire safety in the worker’s home? While this is largely the responsibility of individuals, there are still some steps you can take as an employer to ensure your staff are safe. This includes producing fire safety guidance, and keeping in regular contact with employees to review their fire safety arrangements and encourage them to voice any concerns they may have. 

If you’d like advice or guidance when it comes to office fire safety when most of your staff work from home, don’t hesitate to contact our fire safety consultants on 01204 697 990. 

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