As per step 4 in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown – it is no longer mandatory for people to work from home where possible. As such, many employers are now encouraging their workers to make either a complete or partial return to the office.
Although masks and social distancing may no longer be mandatory – as an employer, you have a duty of care to your workers. You must ensure that you’re still being safe and make your employees aware of the risks to ensure a smooth transition back to the office.
This short guide will cover key points that you, as an employer, should be considering when instructing employees to return to the office.
Although being able to work from home has been a vastly positive experience for many workers, especially those who were able to benefit from a better work life balance and save on childcare costs, there are still many people who are very much looking forward to some form of pre-pandemic lifestyle.
The Standard reports that 80% of respondents from a recent study said they “missed interacting with colleagues” and a separate survey found that 86% of respondents said collaborating with teammates in real life was the biggest reason for wanting to return to the office.
Many businesses are gradually phasing their employees back to the office – some based in the office permanently and some as a hybrid approach.
So how can you ensure that you’re adapting to the new normal in the safest and best way possible for your staff – especially if you’re newly adopting a hybrid approach?
In any working environment, it is still important to control the health and safety risks of COVID-19 and review and update your risk assessment. Guidance on workplace controls such as adequate ventilation, deep cleaning and hand washing remain unchanged, despite the easing of other restrictions.
Here are some of the factors that make up a COVID safe workspace:
When rooms are poorly ventilated, the amount of virus in the air can build up, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially if there are lots of infected people in the room. The virus can also remain in the air after an infected person has left.
For these reasons, It is vital that employers ensure workplaces where individuals are in the same space together for an extended period of time, are well ventilated to help prevent the build-up of the virus and reduce the risk of transmission.
How you maintain or improve ventilation will depend on the building. Buildings are ventilated by natural systems such as vents, windows and chimneys, or by mechanical systems such as extractor fans or air conditioning, or a combination of both.
Thoroughly cleaning surfaces is important as we return to the office, as it helps to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
There are some surfaces that may need cleaning more frequently than others – consider the type of surface and how often the surface is touched. For example, doors, cupboards and equipment such as kettles and dishwashers.
Generally, the more people who touch a surface, the higher the risk. Prioritise cleaning high-touch surfaces at least once a day with a strong antibacterial solution. If the space is a high traffic area, or under certain conditions you may choose to clean more frequently or disinfect in addition to cleaning.
The most reliable way to prevent infection from surfaces is to regularly wash hands or use hand sanitiser. Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands, which helps prevent infections – this is because people often touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realising it after touching an infected surface.
Encouraging employees to practice good hand hygiene is still important – even now the UK is officially out of lockdown as this can help to prevent the spread of the virus.
You must continue to consult your workforce on health and safety matters as talking to workers and their representatives helps to reduce risk.
Ensuring that everybody in a workplace is aware of what they should and shouldn’t be doing to help keep others safe is an effective way of keeping people in the loop and onboard with the latest health and safety measures.
Some businesses may still be happy working from home for the most part, but might want to utilise workspaces every now and again to collaborate on projects or brainstorm ideas.
Coworking office space options are growing in popularity – rent an office or a meeting room to cater to the collaborative needs of your staff. Coworking space providers such as Pure Offices manage everything for you, from cleaning to office management, so you can offer meeting or work space for your employees to book on-demand.
One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 has been how and where we work. Now that the UK is no longer in a national lockdown, many businesses will be looking to work more flexibly – and with Pure Offices there are plenty of options they can choose from.
Pure Offices own and manage office space in over 20 major locations across the UK. Whether you’re a start-up or global business, looking for a first home or a regional satellite office – our offices are flexible, affordable and designed with well-being in mind.
All offices are available on flexible contracts – equipped with ultra-fast broadband, 24/7 access and onsite management, with only 5 steps to take before moving day.
Pure Offices keep up with the demands of modern business and workplace expectations – the onsite teams and excellent ready-made facilities mean you can move in quickly and concentrate on your business, whilst we take care of the rest.