The government’s ‘roadmap’ to end lockdown, a 4-step plan spanning over the course of the next three months, makes things a little clearer as to the possibility of retuning to workplaces in the near future.
Although not all returns to workplace will be deemed necessary, some businesses will choose to undertake a full scale return-to-work plan, while others will likely offer increased commitment to support flexible and remote working where possible, moving forward.
Here are 5 steps to support your own business returning to work after lockdown.
1. Risk assess and follow health & safety measures
Health and safety of your staff should now be your ultimate top priority, and therefore the first step on this list. Using the constantly updated government and public health guidance, employers must ensure they have considered all potential risks and therefore safeguard employees from the potential of infection.
Some questions to consider:
- Can my staff remain socially distanced from each other while at work?
- How will communal areas be managed in order to maintain hygiene levels?
- How can working hours be arranged to ensure there are less people in the workplace at any given time?
2. Communicate your plans and goals to staff members
It’s important that staff have easy access to the information and health & safety policies you have created regarding COVID-19 during your return to work scheme. In a situation like the pandemic, one person’s lack of understanding could risk the health of everyone.
Sending out a mass email with the policy, outlining all your plans to protect your staff, is one way of doing this. Or if you have an HR software system like Youmanage you can upload documents directly to the system, send out notifications to all staff members and enable read-receipts, ensuring they have read and understood the document.
3. Stock up on the necessary PPE
Face coverings are now mandatory for shop workers, bar staff and waiters, but if your COVID-19 policy includes similar mandatory mask rules, then you will be responsible for providing this for everyone. It’s also worth considering the added costs of providing hand sanitiser at desks, and even gloves, depending on the nature of your business.
On top of purchasing the required PPE, employers must also organise training to ensure everyone is using the PPE correctly, as if used incorrectly this can be pointless and cause germs to spread.
4. Prepare for increased lateral flow testing
It’s likely that more large-scale testing will be required of businesses as we move through the roadmap towards returning to work. At the moment, only essential workers are required to undertake regular lateral flow tests, but this could all change, and it’s important to prepare your business for the potential of needing to test employees on a regular or semi-regular basis. You can find more information on lateral flow tests for employees on the CIPD website here.
5. Organise re-orientations and re-introductions to work
One-to-one meetings between managers and employees will be vital to ensure every employee’s individual needs are being met when it comes to COVID-19 safety precautions, as individual cases and risks can vary widely. This is especially important for employees who have been furloughed for prolonged periods of time, as they may need extra guidance and support entering back into the world of work. For those employees, a phased return to work might be worth consideration in order to allow them to re-adjust.
The best way to move forward with your return to work scheme is to be as honest as possible with your employees, and communicate effectively with them at every stage. Although the roadmap lays out some important dates, it seems unlikely that this will be set in stone, as we’ve seen in the past, and your policies need to reflect the possibility of sudden change.