Preparing your staff and workplace for a post lock down return

May 21, 2020

Carry on working from home if you can – that’s the Government’s advice to the estimated 44 per cent of the UK’s workforce who are currently doing so.

And while many companies, including thousands which are primarily office based, do not have a date for an official return to the workplace; it is never too early to start thinking about life after lock down – says Peterborough-based Anne Corder Recruitment.

The recruitment firm is among hundreds of businesses locally whose staff have adapted to a new way of working.

Anne Corder said: “While we continue listen to and follow the Government’s advice on the easing of the lock down in a number of areas, there are many people across the region who are still anxious about what a return to the office will mean to them.

“It is fair to say that employers will have a number of criteria to adhere to, taking into account the social distancing measures as well as longer-term factors when it comes to protecting the health of their workforce.

“While there is much to consider, including many tasks which would have been taken for granted pre-pandemic, a good starting point would be to engage with staff and find out from them what their main concerns are about returning to work.

“Many of the measures will be practical, while others may need many people to re-think their working day.”

Meanwhile, the TUC is calling on the Government to introduce tough new measures to ensure that before lockdown restrictions are eased, all employers assess the risks of their staff returning to work outside the home.

The union body is demanding that every employer in the UK be required to carry out a specific Covid-19 risk assessment, developed in consultation with unions and workers.

The assessment, to be signed off by one of the UK’s 100,000 trade union health and safety reps, or by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, must identify and address any risk which may exist in the workplace, with employers setting out specific steps to mitigate them.

The TUC also wants the assessment to be communicated to workers before they are expected to return to their normal place of work.

In addition, employers should think about:

  • How can staff safely adhere to the two-metre social distancing rule? This could include adequate spacing of desks, Perspex shields on workstations, not sharing laptops or other equipment, easy to follow floor marking or introducing a one-way system
  • Restricting and re-thinking access to staff areas like kitchens and toilets
  • Advising staff to bring in their own ready to eat food, cutlery, water bottles – and keep these with them at all times
  • Introducing a rule of no personal post being delivered to staff at the office
  • Agreeing flexible working instead of taking longer periods of time off, for example working from home or changing working hours to allow for childcare if children haven’t returned to school
  • Staggering work times to limit the number of people in the office at one time
  • Making sure there are places to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water and encourage everyone to do so regularly. Providing hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them
  • Keeping everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace and make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • Ensuring managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace is potentially infected and needs to take the appropriate action.