How do you get your staff back into the office following COVID?
After more than a year of working from home where possible, the UK Government now encourages all workers to gradually return to the office. Although an exciting prospect for most business owners, it does also raise a host of new questions.
The first being the legal requirements you have to meet as a business. For example, do companies have to prepare COVID checks and put appropriate measures in place? Or is the office simply reverting to pre-COVID days?
And regulations aside, what happens if your staff simply don’t want to come back into the office?
Workers have become used to the flexible hours, the lunchtime dog walking, the hours won every day by not commuting. Some that were on furlough have become comfy with the joys of work-free living. For others, the reluctance to return can be health-related as they fear COVID, or perhaps suffer from social anxiety.
So as a business, how do you get your staff back into the office following COVID?
What you need to do
First and foremost, as an employer, you have a responsibility to create a safe environment for your staff to work in. To do so, you should ensure that you are constantly up to date with the latest government guidance on how to make the workplace COVID-secure.
Currently, the government advises employers to carry out health and safety risk assessments (particularly the COVID-19 risk assessment) and to “take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify”. This advice still applies after most COVID-related restrictions were lifted on the 19th of July 2021.
Steps to consider include:
- Taking action to improve ventilation where airflow is poor
- Ensuring that nobody enters the workplace when unwell
- Cleaning surfaces that are touched by multiple people regularly
Following these steps doesn’t just ensure you comply with government guidance, but can help get your staff back into the office as well.
By putting measures in place to help keep your staff safe, they know that they can return to the office without having to fear for their health. As such, your workplace policy and the actions you take show that you care about their wellbeing.
Moreover, by proving your workplace is COVID-secure you eliminate any reasonable excuse for staff not to come back to the office.
So what measures should you take?
What your staff expect from you
As of July 19th, many official restrictions have been lifted. But the government does still strongly urge businesses, and the public alike, to use caution and take steps to prevent transmission of COVID. And regardless of official guidance, many of your employees will expect you to keep certain measures in place for their safety.
Here are some of the most common steps that will still be expected of you:
- Social distancing
Although official social distancing guidelines may have been lifted, it is still advised to keep certain precautions in place where possible. Social distancing will now be a matter of personal responsibility, so encouraging this in your workplace conveys that you are a responsible employer.
For example, try to avoid face-to-face workspaces where possible. Instead, use side-to-side or back-to-back working. If this is not an option, consider installing acrylic screens between desks or at locations where face-to-face contact is unavoidable, such as the reception.
- Cleaning frequently
As mentioned earlier, government guidance advises you to keep often-used surfaces clean at all times. But cleanliness goes further than wiping surfaces.
For example, you can install extra hand washing facilities at the entrances and exits of your building. This helps everyone who enters your workplace stay safe.
- One-way systems
Although not a legal requirement, implementing a one-way system inside your building further helps your staff feel safe and secure.
Bear in mind that your employees have been used to distance and guided walking directions for 18 months now. So getting back to an overcrowded office where everyone walks in all directions can be daunting and cause fear.
Adding one-way system signage in your building helps maintain a natural flow of people through the building and prevents anxiety-inducing chaos.
- Working times
Instead of letting everyone start and finish at the same time, you can implement more flexible working times. Depending on the sector you’re operating in, this could mean staggering start and end times or allowing people to work flexible hours, instead of the fixed 9-to-5.
- Explanatory signage
Lastly, you should communicate any measures that are in place clearly and effectively to anyone who visits your workplace.
As with all forms of COVID-related signage mentioned in this article, you can personalise them by adding your company branding and tone of voice. This helps draw a clear connection between you, the employer, and the safety of your staff.
The moment someone enters the building they know that they are in a safe space operated by a business that cares and acts responsibly.
We can help get your staff back
Here at Butler Signs, we specialise in providing bespoke signage solutions. We work in line with the latest government guidance and we are fully equipped to turn your office into a COVID-secure workplace. We are experts in installing bespoke protective screens and implementing one-way systems.
Simply provide us with your floorplans and we will map out an effective one-way system and offer protective screen recommendations.
Get in touch by filling out the form below or contact our experts directly by calling our team today.
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