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Things your business needs in place before your staff return to work after Covid

12 May 2021

With much of the UK starting to open up again, many businesses are either back in the office full time or bringing staff back into the workplace at a staggered pace.

For those businesses that haven't returned to the office just yet, here are some simple but helpful tips on what you can be doing to make your staff feel as safe as possible on their office return.

1) Make sure the whole business is knowledgeable about Covid and the current measures in place

The first step to welcoming your staff and clients back to the office is making sure senior management are educated thoroughly on Coronavirus and the current social distancing measures put in place by the UK Government.

Not only will this help educate your senior staff, but it will also allow them to see the governments advice and guidance on what measures should be implemented in the workplace., Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England are three great resources to brush up on Covid-19.

2) Make changes to the workspace to help protect your staff

With social distancing measures in place until 21st June at the earliest, office spaces are likely to have to be altered. Typical office spaces will see lots of staff be within the current 2-metre social distancing restrictions. Your businesses offices might have to move desks, put in place the relevant PPE (protective screens) or even introduce an office rota system so the office isn't overwhelmed with staff at one time.

3) PPE

Over the last 12 months, PPE has become normal for all of us to wear and will continue like this until at least 21st June. 

To make for a safe office space, introducing a mask at all times policy or masks to be worn when not at your desk policy is advisable. 

Installing numerous sanitising stations around your office is also recommended as it helps lower the risk of spreading bad germs and ultimately gives you a cleaner office. 

If moving your office layout is problematic, installing protective screens is advisable as this will give each staff member the reassurance they need during these uncertain times.

4) Have a Plan of Action (POA) on how you bring your staff back

If like most businesses you have been working from home for the majority of the last 12 months, you won't have been in your usual office space. 

Bringing your employees back is a priority for all businesses right now but doing it in the safest way possible is key.

Having a staggered return is the safest way to reintegrate your staff into your offices. For example, if you are working in recruitment, it might be advisable to first bring back your sales staff, then a month later your Accounts team and so on.

5) Monitor your employee’s health

Employee’s wellness is obviously of main concern for businesses right now, both physically and mentally.

If staff are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or any bug/viruses, they should work from home where possible and subsequently get a COVID-19 test and self-isolate until the test results come back.

If the test results come back negative, employees should continue to work from home until they feel well enough to return to the office.

If the test comes back positive, employees should self-isolate for the required number of days requested by the NHS. 

If the employee tests positive and was in the office within two weeks of testing positive, closing the office is the only solution. Closing the office will allow your business to organise a deep clean to take place to eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria lingering on surfaces around your office.

Once a deep clean has taken place employees can return to the office.

Many people’s mental health has been dramatically affected during this pandemic and the thought of returning to work can strike anxiety and put immense stress on your staff.

Getting your managers to talk to their team and help address any concerns that employees may have upon returning to the office is the best course of action.

Doing this will allow your employees to talk through any challenges they are facing/have faced and will ultimately allow their manager to get a better understanding of their situation and how they can help with their return to the office space.

6) Policies

Implementing strict policies and rules on return to the office is key to stopping and minimising potential Covid-19 transmission between employees. The following list of rules are ideal for most offices:

  • Social distancing – 2m at all times
  • Using the sanitiser stations (if you have them) to clean down your desk/phone
  • Using hand gel when you enter the office and throughout the day
  • Using face masks to get in and out of your office and when away from your desk
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hand) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. In addition, we recommend regular use of hand sanitiser gel
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Avoid shaking hands or other direct contact such as hugging
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Do not share items that come into contact with your mouth such as cups and bottles

7) Communicate regularly and well

The final key thing to remember as a business is to keep communicating with your staff frequently, as things are changing very quickly in the current climate.

Message out weekly updates on the situation in regard to staff in your offices, new measures put in place in your offices and what the government is saying about the latest easing of restrictions/measures and how this impacts your office.

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