As the lockdown restrictions begin to ease, you may be asking your teams to start returning to the workplace after a period of working from home or being on furlough.
However, the return to the workplace is going to be very different to what you were used to. You may only be working with half the original team. You may be facing a wall, working alone in offices and/or have big screens up between colleagues. Individuals may not be able to make their colleagues their cup of tea anymore (crikey I’m going to be thirsty if I have to wait for me to make a tea – as many previous colleagues will tell you!!).
It maybe back to work but it is more than likely to be ‘all change’.
In preparation for the return there are many things businesses will have to consider and the following post provides guidance to help you.
The Government guidance across the UK remains clear – all employees should work from home wherever possible.
Where your team is unable to work from home due to the nature of their role, technology issues, family or space issues etc you must ensure you put measures in place to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 as far as is reasonably practicable.
The UK Government has published 8 working safely during coronavirus pandemic guides to help employers, employees and the self-employed. Covering a range of different types of work, you should consult all that apply to your workplace as you may operate more than one type of ‘workplace’ in your business. For example, you may have the office setting and a factory setting. Ensure that you review and are clear on your actions in each area to keep you, your people and your business safe.
The appropriate guides provide practical actions for businesses to take based on 5 main steps. The main steps are as follows:
- carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment before restarting work
- develop cleaning, handwashing & hygiene procedures (it does worry me that we have to be told to do this – did some people not do this before?!)
- where possible still allow & encourage people to work from home
- maintain a 2-metre social distancing rule where possible
- if it’s not possible for people to be 2 metres apart, ask yourself if it is necessary for that activity to be carried out. If it is, you must put in place mitigating measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission between staff.
The guidance from the government has more details and can be found here.
If you need specific, detailed support with your risk assessments & implementation please contact Keith at TSM UK Consulting who will be able to provide in depth guidance with practical steps to ensure you and your teams are safe.
Throughout the whole process, whilst you are working on the steps for a return to work and during your first few days and weeks back, make sure you keep in contact and communicate with your staff. You need to build their trust so that they return to work happy and confident that you have done all you can to protect them and your customers. Where concerns arise during the return address and resolve as soon as possible.
Although we assume you would’ve stated in your furlough letters or temporary working from home letters that employees should be ready to return to work at short notice try to give as much notice as possible and be flexible with your teams.
Remember some people due to a variety of reasons may not have ventured out for a long period of time so may be anxious about a return to work. Discuss, understand, make suggestions and work with these employees to enable a successful return.
Others may also still have concerns regarding family members shielding, their own health risks, a worry re using public transport and/or have childcare issues. Talk through the concerns calmly and compassionately. You want to try and do all that you can to support employees but make it clear you do have a business to run and you need to work together and get back to business as best you can.
You may need to have discussions about unpaid leave, using annual leave and in some circumstances, you may need to consider disciplinary action.
Every business will be different. You must ensure that you follow government guidance and obtain professional advice where required. If you have concerns and issues with your people, we would be happy to help. Give us a call today.