As Lockdown measures start to ease, many businesses are looking to the future as they assess the prospect of reopening and getting staff back into the workplace safely.
Returning to the workplace will mean completely different things depending on your industry sector. It could mean recalling furloughed employees, putting an end to mandatory remote working, employing a mix of home and in-office working or ramping back up toward full productivity regardless of where work is being performed. For many companies, it’s likely to be a combination of all the above.
However, according to Deloitte, 35% of UK employees are anxious about returning to their place of work. Some employees may have medical conditions which means that COVID-19 is a greater health risk and may be reluctant to return to the office, some simply fear that coming into a place of work puts them at unnecessary risk outside of the comparative safety of working from home. For companies who have had to close completely, getting staff back into the workplace is crucial to the long-term success of their business. This means that safeguarding employees’ well-being is paramount as it will be impossible to resume normal operations without them.
As we at BCR Associates begin the journey to making our office environment safe for staff to return, we thought we would share some of the issues we have had to consider:
1. Risk assessment
Social distancing and the question of transmission risk is something that we have never had to consider in the working environment thus far therefore a risk assessment is a great place to start. Legal and operational risks as well as staff wellbeing and health and safety adjustments all need to be considered. The HSE provides some good, practical guidance here.
2. Working environment
It’s important to think about the layout of your workspace and if it is still fit for purpose. Do you have space for all of your employees to work within social distancing guidelines or do you need to change the layout of your workspace, such as moving workstations farther apart or installing screens? Have you considered changing employee schedules to reduce the number of people in buildings at one time?
3. Additional equipment
Do you have everything you need to make the working environment safe again? It doesn’t have to be a hugely costly exercise but strict hygiene practices will be at the centre of any back to work scenario therefore some small investment is required. Our business supplies partners can provide you with essentials such as social distancing signage, floor stickers and barriers, protective screens, cleaning and hygiene equipment, tech cleaning kits as well as individually wrapped cutlery and cups for canteen and kitchen areas.
4. Use of PPE
You will need to consider your companies policy on wearing PPE and issue clear instructions on this. You may also wish to carry out regular temperatures checks on staff before entering the workplace. If you need help sourcing items such as face masks and gloves, our business supplies partners are here to help.
Think about who you need back to work, when you need them and how often. It’s possible that not all staff will need to be, or it won’t be safe or practical for all staff to come back to the workplace at once and you may need to consider a phased return-to-workplace plan.
6. Staff training requirements
For industry sectors such as Manufacturing, Retail, Hospitality and Leisure, being fully operational and maintaining social distancing guidelines will be challenging and staff may be required to behave differently.
7. Improved communication
To help staff feel more at ease when returning to the workplace, it’s key to communicate the steps that are being taken to make the working environment COVID-secure. This could be in the form of regular virtual town hall meetings, making any necessary changes to your staff handbook/ policy documents and issuing guidelines for staff returning to the office.
Our carefully selected supply chain partners consist of experts in business supplies, HR and health and safety. For help and advice on getting staff back into the workplace safely and with minimised risk, please contact us on 03330 433 233 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch.