As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, businesses are planning for a return to the workplace.
This checklist outlines five points that employers should consider when planning for the return of their workforce.
1. Government Guidelines
Employers must ensure that any decisions put employee’s health and wellbeing as a top priority and is compliant with government guidelines.
This should be monitored regularly and employers should be prepared to act upon any changes that may occur, at short notice.
2. Risk Assessment
Before any form of return, employers should conduct a risk assessment of the workplace, considering some of the following;
- Can employees maintain a safe distance between each other?
- Does protective screens need to be introduced?
- Can touchpoints be replaced with hands-free options?
- Does the layout of the workplace need to be restructured to improve social distancing e.g. one way systems
- How can employee interaction be reduced e.g. smaller teams, flexible working, staggering lunch times
3. Reinduction – Communication is key
Management should be encouraged to have open discussions with employees and keep them informed of any plans for returning to the workplace. These meetings are particularly important for individuals who have been isolated or anxious about returning to the workplace. Employees who are vulnerable or are living with someone who is vulnerable may have to work remotely for a longer period of time, perhaps until vaccinations have been issued.
4. Health and Safety Measures
It is important that the symptoms of Covid are communicated frequently so that employees know what to look out for.
To minimise the spread of infection, temperatures should be taken daily and employees should be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), for example hand sanitiser and masks. Also, signs should be displayed throughout the workplace on how employees can protect themselves.
Employees should also be clear about what to do if they experience symptoms of Covid-19. For example, if an employee experiences symptoms while at work, they should leave work immediately, get a test as soon as possible, report results to management and self-isolate for the required timeframe.
5. Remote where possible
Now is the perfect opportunity for companies to consider new and more effective ways of working, for example agile and flexible working practices.
Meetings, interviews and other interactions should be conducted remotely where possible. However, if meetings do need to take place face to face, management should try to reduce the length of time of these interactions.
Therefore, it is clear that communication is essential for companies to adapt successfully when returning to the workplace.
Although this checklist will not cover every situation when returning to the workplace, it should help businesses think about some of the issues that should be considered.
Written by Michelle Young