For most office-based workers, an end to remote working may seem a while away, but it’s important to start planning now. Without a vaccine in the immediate future, we will be returning to a ‘new normal’. As such, businesses and employees should be prepared to adapt offices and working practices, making health and safety a priority.
We are by no means experts on the COVID-19 pandemic and suggest closely following Government advice on returning to office-based work. You can find the official Government advice, here.
However, we have condensed this information to make it more digestible for those that are planning the return to the office. Take a look at our infographic and key points below for more information.
Preparation is vital to keeping your staff safe. The Government recommend carrying out a specific COVID-19 risk assessment in line with the Health & Safety Executive guidance, which can be found here. The workplace, and any devices coming into the workplace, should be cleaned thoroughly in line with Government advice.
Also, prepare for the fact that when staff do begin to return to the office, this will likely be very gradual. Professional HR body, CIPD, warns that “employers need to plan now for what is likely to be staged return to the workplace over what could be prolonged periods”. A staged return to work will mitigate risk and keep employees safe. This could occur via a rota whereby staff work remotely or in the office on alternate days. Equally it could include some employees working flexibly long term. Find out more about flexible working options, here.
If employees can do so, it’s advisable to continue to work from home for as long as possible.
Once the return to the office begins, encourage employees to maintain two metre social distancing as much as possible. This includes putting up signs or floor tape in the office, separating workstations, and contacting external professionals via video or audio calls rather than in person.
Make employees aware of the COVID-19 risk assessment and the procedures you’re taking to ensure their safety. But also listen to your employees’ views, take any potential anxieties seriously and rectify them to the best of your ability.
Outline any new office rules clearly, for example lunch rotas, no shared equipment and no handshaking. Also make sure that all devices being brought back into the office are cyber secure.
Encourage employees to wash their hands as much as possible; send emails, encourage them vocally and put up posters to remind them. Also ensure that they know how to wash their hands properly to mitigate risk, the official NHS guidelines can be found here.
Furthermore, make sure to provide enough hand sanitiser and cleaning products so that employees can disinfect themselves and objects that have been touched regularly. Additionally, review cleaning practices so that the workplace is thoroughly and professionally cleaned on a regular basis.
As mentioned, we recommend reviewing the Government’s official advice for a more in-depth overview on preparing to return to the office.
Many of you are probably still working remotely and won’t be returning to the office for the foreseeable future. Therefore, you may also want to check out our in-depth overview on working from anywhere, a popular prediction as to what will become the ‘new normal’. Click here to find out more.