How to Return to the Workplace 1

How to Return to the Workplace

26 April 2020

Here we are with the potential (at least in the short term) to contemplate the gradual return to the workplace. What will that look like? How do we make our workplaces safe and resilient to infection threat? How do we protect our staff, customers and suppliers?

Protecting your staff and visitors to your business makes sense. If your businesses capability is reduced by staff absenteeism due to illness it can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Return from a lockdown is going to be a delicate process for most businesses. We will be told to maintain social distancing for considerable time. This will be backed up by ensuring that we can continue the 2-metre rule. So, whilst we can open our places of work, we will need to prepare them for safety.

Essential Equipment

Hand Sanitiser Station for Construction and build sites or areas with large footfall.

Hand Sanitiser Station for Construction and build sites or areas with large footfall from PAL Hire.

Hand sanitiser (or sanitizer as spelt by some but not in the UK) stations regardless of the amount of people on your team. Or how many people visit your place of work. You now have a duty of care to ensure that you keep your business safe. As the country begins the gradual return to work, commerce will pick up, but times have changed. To ensure safety and a speedy recovery form the prevailing lockdown conditions, you need to make sure that your business provides the minimum in sanitation. This could extend to ways to manage footfall through your business and or additional toilet and handwash facilities in a bid to:

  • To protect staff, clients, customers and suppliers
  • safeguard revenues
  • Avoid pinpoint lockdown

Return to work, getting your business up and running will be a gradual thing. The government is reporting that whilst we have weathered the worst of the outbreak, Covid-19 is something we must live with and manage for the foreseeable future. There for the staggered return to the workplace will need additional basic requirements to ensure the limited spread of Covid-19. Alongside standard social distancing measures mentioned later in this article, you may want to up the hygiene of workstations – regular sanitisation and decontamination of equipment using wipes and additional cleansing of doors.

Improvise Safely

If regular decontamination is not practical and if in the confines of your fire regulations, you may want to consider leaving some doors open to reduce the need for any unnecessary contact of surfaces. This will help reduce the potential of infection. Add this to, liberal access to hand sanitiser and regular ability for your team to perform hand washing you are on the right track to protecting your business.

Customers and Suppliers

Any visitor to your place of work will need to feel comfortable. As you may have experienced in retail environments during the lockdown. People are going to want to feel safe visiting your place of work. This means providing safe, clear entrance and exit to your premises. Where possible this should be contactless and help the visitor navigate to their objective in the safest way possible. You will need to provide adequate hand sanitisation for your workplace visitors. If you have been to hospital in the past decade you will have already seen the hand sanitiser units strategically placed at the entrances to wards and to general hospital premises. Wherever you have footfall of people you are going to need to provide a safe environment and adequate hand sanitisers.

What types of locations that need hand sanitisers?

  • Places of work
  • Construction Sites
  • Offices
  • Light Industrial Sites
  • Warehouses
  • Retail
  • High street shops
  • Schools, Colleges and Universities
  • Recreational environments (when opened)
  • Staff canteens, cook houses, shared kitchens
  • Toilets
  • Reception areas and waiting rooms
  • Distribution Centres

Protect business revenue

The government is trailing the capability to track infection route and cause by using an app. Once successfully deployed, and if the uptake is acceptable it will make it easier for society to live with viruses. Using existing location-based technology on both Android and IOS devices, tech experts believe the application will anonymously log a period of at least 2 weeks. Tracking every location, you have been to (where you have had your internet enabled device with you) and having the ability to cross reference other people who you have had contact with. And once a person has confirmed infection – it makes it easier to pinpoint who, where and when they encountered other people. This will make it easier for us to live with the virus, operate our businesses and manage it in general society.

Back view of young adult woman standing on Millennium Bridge, London, using smartphone – Note not Social Distancing

This level of accurate infection trace will also make it easier to pinpoint known infection locations. If that happens to be your place of work you could, in theory lose your staff team if they are all notified of an infection and requirement to self-isolate. Whether or not large-scale tracking of a population is possible to roll out in the UK will be successful or not remains to be seen. Certainly, the use of internet enable phones is at a realistic level (79% of UK Adults own a smartphone) where it could make a difference for tracking infections. That said this technology will always be at the limitation of humans, our cultures and social rules. There is a myriad of exclusions to consider, use of devices in public spaces and or the realistic assimilation of the tracking through education establishments.

Would Tracking Infections work?

Would tracking at this level stop at the adult populous and assumptions be made on per household infection rate – and subsequent lockdown restrictions involve the whole household as per the start of the lockdown? This would appear to be the mature way to cope in the circumstances of a household infection and enable containment (and testing) to swiftly manage the infection on a macro level by a broader society. Ideally ensuring that the infection would not pose a massive risk to your staffing ability. Aside from the assumptions made here based on what the government is telling us in the daily briefings and in depth industry briefings we are privy to.  You are better preparing your business to protect its viability and revenue with the right action and procedures now.

Business reputation

Whether your business or place of work offers adequate protection, frictionless operations, ability to offer even the simplest form of hand sanitisers to its staff and customers will become something that is measured against your reputation. We have already seen companies changed their methods of operations to enable social distancing. This has enabled supermarkets to function safely, as they offer cleaning stations (hand sanitisers and wipes) and have the staff team sanitise supermarket trolleys after every human encounter. Delivery companies have changed their procedures to enable frictionless delivery. Even modern tech is allowing you to pay for your car wash by using your contactless card through your car window. Operating a business and living with Coronavirus, beating a path back to business profitability the necessity is on you to ensure frictionless, social distancing so you can safely get back to work.

To sum up

As we return to our offices, warehouses, construction sites and general places of work – we are going to need to factor for the consistent threat of coronavirus. By preparing our workplaces and getting ready for the new norm in business operations.

  • Social distancing and the 2-metre working rule will continue in the workplace as the country returns from lockdown.
  • You are going to have to work harder for your staff team – making social distancing at your workplace easier to accomplish.
  • That will probably mean a gradual return to work for your furloughed staff or teams working from home. (if you have discovered you have members of the team who can work from home then keep them there – reducing your overall risk for infection in the workplace by another dimension)

Revised health and safety guidance surrounding the provision of hand sanitisers. If we do not provide adequate sanitisation for our business, then it will not be long before legislation forces your business to install the right level of PPE consistent with your business to operate safely with a heightened risk of infection. This means alongside with your existing health and safety policy. Which will cover everything from the way your staff sir at their desks, operate in the warehouse to what hard hats and boots they wear.

Social distancing will be written into policy alongside with the precautions (provision of hand sanitisation, adequate PPE, ability for staff to work under prevailing conditions in a safe and frictionless was so as to protect them and your customers) you have taken as a business owner to protect your team.

For details on the equipment you can buy for business to prepare and protect your staff, customers and ultimately revenue – contact our team on 0161 482 6200