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Level 5 - Still Working in an office environment

  • 12-01-2021 11:30pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 47 ernestcooke91


    So I just want an opinion.

    I work for a medical company. Under current level 5 restrictions, this company is deemed as an essential service and are therefore still open (fair enough).

    However, a large percentage of the people working there have office based jobs. I work as a software engineer in the R&D department. There is also other departments such as purchasing which are office based jobs.

    We requested last March to work from home but our HR department refused to allow it.
    We have been working in the office this whole time.

    A number of months ago, we had an outbreak of cases and our whole department had to self isolate. We were allowed to work from home for the isolation period but were instructed to return immediately once our isolation period ended.

    While I understand the importance of the company stating open I feel highly disappointed that non-essential staff have not been given permission to work from home and I feel it is an un-necessary risk given the fact that the company can do it when they were forced a number of months ago.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 395 ✭✭ MattressRick


    Unfortunately your company doesn't place any value on the health of its employees. My own employers are a small med tech company and (reluctantly) let us do it because they know they should, but we know they don't want us to and will drag us all back in to the office the first chance they get. Your employer really mustn't care about people's wellbeing and secondly are too ignorant to see that a widespread outbreak could shut the place down for weeks. I know you mightn't have options to move but you should job hunt if you can. Otherwise just keep changing your mask every few hours in work, don't touch your face in work unless your hands are clean, keep sanitiser at your desk and in your pocket for eating, making tea, coffee etc
    Stay Safe!


  • Registered Users Posts: 47 ernestcooke91


    Thanks very much for the reply. Your opinion is exactly the same as mines! I've been working for my company for over 7 years and I have enjoyed my job until recently. It's just the fact of knowing that the company simply doesn't seem to care about peoples well being is very disappointing.

    The irony is that the company has a big contract for the NHS in Britain for Covid-19 testing and keeps stressing to us to do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus while overlooking the fact that letting us WFH would make their own life a lot easier.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,596 ✭✭✭ Saint_Mel


    Interesting read. I work in IT in a med device company ... as soon as the 1st restrictions came last March we were all shipped out straight away and told to WFH until further notice. Some returned to the office during the summer but it was completely at their own request and after the place was restructured for (desks spaced out, 1-way system through building, sanitizer everywhere etc.)

    In many ways I'd love to be back in the office but not even a hint of pressure to do so. There's more encouragement to stay WFH unless there's a real need to be onsite


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,592 Mod ✭✭✭✭ shesty


    That is mad! I left the office last March 12th and haven't been back (I have kids) .They closed their doors completely a week or so after that and have very firmly told us all don't come near the place. There is a very small handful in the office as they are trades and we have a facility based there....and it is an essential service but everyone else has been told not ot consider passing the gates of our office, or the others they have around the country. They were going to let people start coming back in September, but they pushed that out to March 2021 - I would guess it will be pushed out again now.


    I admit at this point I would actually love to go to the office, just to get away from my house and maybe see some other people, but I have to just put up with it I guess. They had embraced remote working in the year before this happened, and I suspect it will now be very firmly embedded.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,102 ✭✭✭ UsBus


    I work for a med device company as well.
    Worked from home from April to October last year. Didn't mind coming back onsite last year but my job is practically all desk based. Coming onsite this month has grated with me as the direction (rather than advice) has been to wfh unless it's not possible. I'm avoiding any contact with my parents currently due to being at work.

    It will be interesting to see where the WFH legislation goes later this year. I have a feeling employers will be getting their legal departments in place to bury this. There has been a sense all along here that officially "You need to take Covid seriously and take all necessary precautions", but the underlying sentiment is lets keep people onsite to avoid any future issues with being out of the office..

    I will certainly be reviewing my options when some level of normality returns.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,065 ✭✭✭ leggo


    Pretty sure the government has brought in legislation, even going beyond the pandemic, that employers must have bulletproof reasons for needing people to work on-site or they have to let you WFH if you request. And, if your company was able to function while you were WFH during the outbreak to begin with, they don’t have a leg to stand on. Worth looking into and taking to your manager with specifics to quote.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,448 ✭✭✭ Mimon


    I am partly office based but I've found any empty area to sit by myself. Where I should be sitting there is 30/40 people in a small enough area. There are now 2m between stations put and some people are not taking social distancing seriously.

    Will be staying in the empty area until I'm told otherwise.

    We were told last week that we can leave work when we have our work done so can get all the practical work done by 1:30/2pm and go home to do any paperwork on the work laptop. Sensible from my employer.


  • Registered Users Posts: 47 ernestcooke91


    Thanks very much for all your thoughts and responses everyone. It's interesting to get everyone's opinion and how things are going in their own jobs.

    So the reason officially that we were not given permission to work from home was that:
    "the company needs to access commercially sensitive information, which means that working from home is not possible."

    IMO, this just sounds like an excuse. What can be defined as commercially sensitive information?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,491 ✭✭✭ Yamanoto


    Mmm
    Thanks very much for all your thoughts and responses everyone. It's interesting to get everyone's opinion and how things are going in their own jobs.

    So the reason officially that we were not given permission to work from home was that:
    "the company needs to access commercially sensitive information, which means that working from home is not possible."

    IMO, this just sounds like an excuse. What can be defined as commercially sensitive information?

    Has the HSA Return to Work Protocol been implemented in your workplace?

    https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/22829a-return-to-work-safely-protocol/#

    If so, have Covid Reps appointed by your employer raised the matter with management?

    It's utterly irresponsible of your employer to have you attend the workplace at this time if you're not essential workers. Even those deemed essential by the State are working from home where possible.

    Though it's understandably tough for conscientious employees to do, I'd inform your manager that you intend to work from home, as you're abiding by overwhelming and unequivocal Govt advice to protect the health of yourself, your colleagues, family and friends.

    If your employer has an issue with that, ask that HR put the precise basis for their objection to you in writing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,874 ✭✭✭ Sarn


    Thanks very much for all your thoughts and responses everyone. It's interesting to get everyone's opinion and how things are going in their own jobs.

    So the reason officially that we were not given permission to work from home was that:
    "the company needs to access commercially sensitive information, which means that working from home is not possible."

    IMO, this just sounds like an excuse. What can be defined as commercially sensitive information?

    That excuse is total nonsense. Our workplace deals in highly commercially sensitive information and several hundred of us have all been working from home since last March. There was no culture of WFH before that but they’ve taken the health recommendations seriously.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 47 ernestcooke91


    Yamanoto wrote: »
    Mmm

    Has the HSA Return to Work Protocol been implemented in your workplace?

    https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/22829a-return-to-work-safely-protocol/#

    If so, have Covid Reps appointed by your employer raised the matter with management?

    It's utterly irresponsible of your employer to have you attend the workplace at this time if you're not essential workers. Even those deemed essential by the State are working from home where possible.

    Though it's understandably tough for conscientious employees to do, I'd inform your manager that you intend to work from home, as you're abiding by overwhelming and unequivocal Govt advice to protect the health of yourself, your colleagues, family and friends.

    If your employer has an issue with that, ask that HR put the precise basis for their objection to you in writing.


    I'm actually unsure if the HSA Return to Work Protocol has been implemented at work but I've never heard anything about it. The factory never closed if that means anything.

    No Covid Reps have been appointed by the employer.
    We have informed our manager on a number of occasions previously that we would like to follow government advice to work from home. Our manager has informed HR and the above reason that commercially sensitive information has to be accessed that working from home is not possible.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 275 ✭✭ sweet_trip


    I wonder what the legal implications of this are.
    For example if there is documented requests for work from home, documented concerns raised, risk assessments by your H&S rep and also the fact that the government are recommending WFH.


    If there's an outbreak and you get covid from the workplace that may or may not give you long term health effects.



    Would this not open up the employer to be legal liability?



    I'd be documenting everything tbh.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,904 ✭✭✭✭ Mrs OBumble


    Yamanoto wrote: »
    It's utterly irresponsible of your employer to have you attend the workplace at this time if you're not essential workers. Even those deemed essential by the State are working from home where possible

    People at medical device companies are essential workers, for pretty obvious reasons. They have never been off work, so return to work protocols are irrelevant.

    Individuals who do not realise the commercial sensitivity of information which they have access to are perhaps the most risky to have working off-site.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,822 ✭✭✭ cml387


    People at medical device companies are essential workers, for pretty obvious reasons. They have never been off work, so return to work protocols are irrelevant.

    Individuals who do not realise the commercial sensitivity of information which they have access to are perhaps the most risky to have working off-site.

    It is an IT failure if the company cannot set up secure links from home to the office. It's perfectly possible and our company do it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 338 ✭✭ XVII


    If you are really working with commercially sensitive information, you should be signing NDA's at the start of your employment. Those usually cover everything, no matter where you are, at the office, luas or home. Moreover, company like ours, has added an extra NDA specifically for WFH. That's how the company covers itself in case of leaks and continues to follow government guidelines.

    And yes, your IT should just set up proper VPN for remoting.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,467 ✭✭✭ CruelCoin


    While I understand the importance of the company stating open I feel highly disappointed that non-essential staff have not been given permission to work from home and I feel it is an un-necessary risk given the fact that the company can do it when they were forced a number of months ago.

    Who determines who is essential in the business. You or management?

    Either they need you to make money, or they don't. You're not batting for the "job stability" team methinks

    If you're doing a job that can be done entirely at home, then fine, that should be helped, but I certainly wouldn't be trumpeting "I'm not essential" to my bosses.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,986 ✭✭✭✭ ELM327


    People at medical device companies are essential workers, for pretty obvious reasons. They have never been off work, so return to work protocols are irrelevant.

    Individuals who do not realise the commercial sensitivity of information which they have access to are perhaps the most risky to have working off-site.
    With the greatest of respect, this is bunkum.


    I work in fintech and worked from home some days before this pandemic. Access to payment information, access to personal information, company information etc. All through secure VPN with 3 phase authentication.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,986 ✭✭✭✭ ELM327


    XVII wrote: »
    If you are really working with commercially sensitive information, you should be signing NDA's at the start of your employment. Those usually cover everything, no matter where you are, at the office, luas or home. Moreover, company like ours, has added an extra NDA specifically for WFH. That's how the company covers itself in case of leaks and continues to follow government guidelines.

    And yes, your IT should just set up proper VPN for remoting.
    Yup, same for us


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,491 ✭✭✭ Yamanoto


    People at medical device companies are essential workers, for pretty obvious reasons. They have never been off work, so return to work protocols are irrelevant.

    Nope

    The provisions in the Return to Work Safety Protocol must apply equally to workers who have remained in the workplace throughout the lockdown


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,835 ✭✭✭ markpb


    CruelCoin wrote: »
    Who determines who is essential in the business. You or management?

    Either they need you to make money, or they don't. You're not batting for the "job stability" team methinks

    If you're doing a job that can be done entirely at home, then fine, that should be helped, but I certainly wouldn't be trumpeting "I'm not essential" to my bosses.

    Essential workers mean essential to the country, not the company, ie it is essential to the country that Eirgrid engineers keep working so we have a stable electricity supply for hospitals. That job is both essential and cannot be done from home.

    Where some companies take the piss is by deciding that the company is essential therefore everyone is essential. I’ve heard first-hand of companies who produce, among lots of other things, medical equipment so they have decided that the entire company is essential and also ordered all their accountants to be present in the office every day since last March. Accountants might be useful people but there’s no reason to put more people at risk by bringing them into the office every day.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,600 ✭✭✭ SouthWesterly


    leggo wrote: »
    Pretty sure the government has brought in legislation, even going beyond the pandemic, that employers must have bulletproof reasons for needing people to work on-site or they have to let you WFH if you request. And, if your company was able to function while you were WFH during the outbreak to begin with, they don’t have a leg to stand on. Worth looking into and taking to your manager with specifics to quote.
    It's being talked about but not law.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,099 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko


    cml387 wrote: »
    It is an IT failure if the company cannot set up secure links from home to the office. It's perfectly possible and our company do it.
    ELM327 wrote: »
    With the greatest of respect, this is bunkum.


    I work in fintech and worked from home some days before this pandemic. Access to payment information, access to personal information, company information etc. All through secure VPN with 3 phase authentication.

    The confidentiality issues with WFH aren't so much about the technology, as about the people. How do you secure your paperwork if you're working at the kitchen table in a houseshare? How do you keep the content of phone calls confidential if you're in a houseshare, or even living with a nosey, gossipy partner or sibling or older child?

    There is no NDA that covers these situations.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,904 ✭✭✭✭ Mrs OBumble


    I would be very concerned about the commercial nous of anyone who thought that confidential information could be secured by technology alone.

    There's no VPN in the would that can protect against housemates seeing your screen or hearing your conversation, or people who don't routinely lock their keyboard every time they step away from the computer.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,676 ✭✭✭✭ beauf


    I would be very concerned about the commercial nous of anyone who thought that confidential information could be secured by technology alone.

    There's no VPN in the would that can protect against housemates seeing your screen or hearing your conversation, or people who don't routinely lock their keyboard every time they step away from the computer.

    You can set a timeout that's very short, that can't be changed by the user. Ours is 30 sec's.

    However you could just take a photo of something on screen in the office, or send it to the printer. Being in an office is no guarantee of security.

    If a company doesn't want to allow working from home they won't.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,986 ✭✭✭✭ ELM327


    I would be very concerned about the commercial nous of anyone who thought that confidential information could be secured by technology alone.

    There's no VPN in the would that can protect against housemates seeing your screen or hearing your conversation, or people who don't routinely lock their keyboard every time they step away from the computer.
    The same way you stopped it before covid.


  • Registered Users Posts: 295 ✭✭ Howard Beale


    I could easily work from home but am deemed an essential worker well the company is so have to go into the office. It's fine. I never wear the face nappies as I find them disgusting and unhygienic and my boss is fine with it, in fact he doesn't bother wearing his around me now and the company owner never said anything to me as he respects my decision not to wear one.
    My reasons are my own.
    Could never work from home anyway.

    I kinda have my own corner of an office and left to do it with music on.

    One serious pain for me is Brexit, I deal with the UK constantly and you wouldn't believe the shyte it causes for shipping and logistics.

    Lockdown hasn't affected logistics/shipping as much as Brexit in my book.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,099 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko


    beauf wrote: »
    You can set a timeout that's very short, that can't be changed by the user. Ours is 30 sec's.

    However you could just take a photo of something on screen in the office, or send it to the printer. Being in an office is no guarantee of security.

    If a company doesn't want to allow working from home they won't.
    There's no guarantee, but there is a far higher chance of an employee being seen or noticed if they are up to something questionable. With WFH, there is zero chance.
    ELM327 wrote: »
    The same way you stopped it before covid.
    Before Covid, you were in the same room as your employees, and you could see what they were up to. Their peers would also see what they were up to.

    With WFH, you lose that direct supervision.


  • Registered Users Posts: 443 ✭✭ Lisa2011


    So I just want an opinion.

    I work for a medical company. Under current level 5 restrictions, this company is deemed as an essential service and are therefore still open (fair enough).

    However, a large percentage of the people working there have office based jobs. I work as a software engineer in the R&D department. There is also other departments such as purchasing which are office based jobs.

    We requested last March to work from home but our HR department refused to allow it.
    We have been working in the office this whole time.

    A number of months ago, we had an outbreak of cases and our whole department had to self isolate. We were allowed to work from home for the isolation period but were instructed to return immediately once our isolation period ended.

    While I understand the importance of the company stating open I feel highly disappointed that non-essential staff have not been given permission to work from home and I feel it is an un-necessary risk given the fact that the company can do it when they were forced a number of months ago.

    I understand where your coming from. Even if all staff are following guidelines outside work and nobody has covid , your employer still needs to follow guidelines.

    If certain functions need to be done in the office only the staff in these functions should be there and socially distancing.

    Everyone else can work from home. Its all about taking precautions just incase.


  • Registered Users Posts: 98 ✭✭ Laura2021


    I'm going to be starting a job soon in a hospital was looking for a remote job but got offered this . I'm not sure if I should take it or not especially in a hospital where Covid is It would be more likely to catch it . Not sure what do it as it's a good job with good salary. Dont no why I wouldn't be able to work from home .


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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,986 ✭✭✭✭ ELM327


    There's no guarantee, but there is a far higher chance of an employee being seen or noticed if they are up to something questionable. With WFH, there is zero chance.


    Before Covid, you were in the same room as your employees, and you could see what they were up to. Their peers would also see what they were up to.

    With WFH, you lose that direct supervision.
    Speak for yourselves. We had WFH at will.


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