Helping Your Staff Return To The Office Safely

Helping Your Employees Return To The Office Safely

 26 Aug 2020

Tags:
    Construction,
    Covid-19,
    Employer Tips,
    Gaming Industry,
    Wellbeing

Helping Your Employees Return To The Office Safely

Since the 15th June the UK government lifted restrictions on the opening of non-essential shops.

Off the back of this plus the lifting of other further restrictions, a lot of people are now wondering when they will be returning to offices.

Some companies are already back in the office and others are preparing their office environment for post covid-19 working.

With that in mind we have outlined below some useful tips and raised some key points on helping your employees return to offices safely.

 

Mental Health Awareness

Whilst some may be hoping of a return to the normal office environment, in reality its unlikely an office will ever be the same again on the basis it has heightened employers and employees awareness to the risk of future virus outbreaks, be it covid-19 or a future new pandemic.

A recent article on linkedin highlighted the nervousness some employees are feeling about a return to the office, it was also noted by another source that as much as up to two thirds of employees are anxious about a return to the office.

Whilst there is no overnight fix, it is important that employers keep in mind the mental health of their staff during these challenging times and look for ways to be understanding and ensure support is available for those that need it.

 

Setting up your office environment:

  • Limit number of staff.
  • Where possible operate one way systems (separate entry and exit points) in the building.
  • Stagger arrival, lunch and finish times to reduce congestion.
  • Use floor and wall marking points to encourage flow around the office.
  • Provide sanitiser stations on entry and exit points, as well as throughout the office.
  • Consider a having a Covid Chaperone, or temperature check point.
  • Limit occupancy for Lifts.
  • Review office layouts and processes to allow people to work further apart
  • Use floor tape to help staff keep to a safe distance.
  • Avoid sharing desks and equipment.
  • Encourage regular cleaning of office equipment, phones and keyboards.
  • Increase cleaners.
  • Install protective screens
  • Free Back to Work Posters to raise awareness.
  • Gloves & Masks, make them available for those that wish to use during work.
  • Provide a tool box talk / new office induction.

 

Meetings

  • Continue the use of online meetings where possible.
  • Consider meeting outdoors or in well ventilated rooms
  • Practise social distancing and avoid hand shaking.
  • Provide hand sanitisers in meetings
  • Provide an Induction email to visitors prior to advise on new processes and procedures at the office / during meetings.


Gradual Return

It may be worth initially introducing a gradual return to the office, perhaps initially only a couple of days a week.
This will help staff acclimatise themselves but also reduce staff exposure and the risk of a virus outbreak.

 

Staff Rotation Teams

To be able to main social distancing its likely most offices will have to reduce the number of people present at one time.

As such you may wish to consider a staff rotation scheme, to ensure certain groups are only in the office at the same time.

Not only does this help you maintain social distancing to reduce the spread but also if unfortunately, an outbreak scenario does arise, you can isolate it to one group / team of workers.

Furthermore, this will help ensure that you still have others teams available to keep working whilst others may need to take time off to quarantine and recover.

 

Flexible Travel Times

A massive factor in the governments nervousness about employees returning to offices is also around the concerns of more people using public transport to get to work, especially on the basis a lot of offices are in town and city centres with limited car parking.

Furthermore, it would be wise to provide employees with flexibility on work start / finish times to allow them to avoid peak travel times where they are most exposed to the risk of infection.

If you don’t already perhaps it would be a good time to create a cycle to work scheme for your employees with the benefit of vouchers to buy a new bike.

 

Home Working

The flexibility to work from home, even if only a couple of days a week is likely to be more commonplace post Covid-19.

To protect your employees and be a competitive employer it is likely important to use this as an opportunity to still offer some home working moving forward.

Those that do not embrace it may see employees leave to join a more “flexible” employer.

This has started to gather so much pace that some other EU countries have started to propose it as a “Legal Right” for employees to work from home.

This is especially important to consider when protecting employees that are of higher risk.

Also ensure that you provide all support and equipment that will allow the employee to work well from home.

 

Sick Days

A rethink on sick days could be worth considering.

In days gone by it was often frowned upon if you didn’t make the effort to come to work when not feeling well, so much so that those who came to work ill could wear it as a badge of honour.

This way of thinking must be undone and instead encourage people to work from home if they are not feeling well or take time off.

Not only will this stop the spread of more dangerous viruses but also more common colds and thereby overall should reduce staff sickness.

Perhaps consider categorising your Sick Days depending on the severity of the illness.

So, for example instead of someone having to take the day off as sick leave for what might be a mild cold instead provide the option for them to work from home and do what they can until recovered.

 

Involve your team:

The measures you are putting in place are endeavours to keep your employees safe, to help make them feel more confident about a return to the office / work place it may help to involve them and ask what is it they would need from you as an employer to make them feel safe.

 

Celebrate

On a final note, whilst a lot of people will be nervous, there will also be many that are looking forward to a return to the office for more social interaction and a clearer split of work / home life environment.

As such we have also seen companies embracing the experience of getting back to the office and creating a welcoming environment for staff to return to, even simple things like “welcome back” banners can go a long way with staff morale. 

 

Conclusion

We hope these tips help get you thinking about how you can not only get your employees back to the office safely but also create a good environment and employee experience, it will surely be remembered by staff long term.

We must also note that we are not qualified to give advice on this topic / health & safety matters and comment on it only to get you thinking about the subject and give an insight to what we are seeing other companies doing, as such we would encourage you to also seek your own further advice from following government guidelines or consulting a qualified health & safety practitioner.

For more info check out the link below, which provides further guidance on the government advice and measures. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres

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We would be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other tips for helping employees transition back to the office or create a good working environment / employee experience.

So please feel free to leave your comments and like / share our post.

 

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