During Phase 1 of this collaborative project, we developed a tool for measuring workplace stress risk in remote working. The tool was based on the UK Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) recommended approach for organisational stress management, and aims to provide organisations with actionable data for preventative and proactive stress management.  It was developed via thematic analysis of qualitative data from 32 focus groups across the four local authority partner organisations.

Since the completion of Phase 1 and finalisation of the first iteration of the tool, the team have been busy developing it, with a view to increasing its potential for impact nationally and internationally. A small pilot study with 50 participants was initially run. The tool was then set up for use on the HSE digital platform, run by Snap Surveys. The team at the University of Hull has been working closely with HSE and Snap Surveys to develop the tool and its automated reporting functions so that it includes the remote working element.

This has since been trialled with two local authorities – Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The response rate has been positive, with a total of approximately 3000 respondents across both organisations. The team will use this data for several purposes; a) to provide insights to the local authorities about where they are doing well with stress risk management and where there may be opportunities for improvement; b) to gather staff views on the tool and the relevance of the questions; and c) to undertake further statistical analysis to test the reliability and validity of the tool.

Once this work has been undertaken, the University of Hull will work with HSE and Snap Surveys to make the tool available nationally on the HSE’s digital platform, thus reaping maximum benefit and impact from the initial work undertaken in Phase 1.

The past year has seen a major national shift in our ways of working. This tool provides a really valuable resource to support organisations in understanding the nature and prevalence of stress risks associated with working remotely. The insights gained from using the Remote Working Stress Risk Tool will provide organisations with the evidence base to support healthy work design and develop positive ways of working.

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