For the past six months employers and employees have been adapting to ways of working from home. The green light has now been given to many people to go back to offices safely. From flexible hours and staggered starting times to deep cleaning, we’re getting ready for new ways of working. With many across England now offered the opportunity to return to their place of work, employers have introduced a raft of measures to help ensure the safety of their staff. From social distancing to hand sanitising, new requirements are extensive and stringent, designed to put all returning workers at ease. So, with the knowledge that everything possible is being done to keep work spaces COVID-19 secure, employees can choose to embrace the perks of office life once again while still feeling safe. Much missed personal interactions, creative team building and bonding … for many of us, office work has a lot going for it.
Working safely checklist
- Review your start time: if your commute involves travelling on public transport during rush hours, ask your employer if you can start earlier or later to avoid crowds.
- Change travel arrangements: You can walk or cycle to work to avoid public transport, or get off public transport a few stops earlier, minimising time you spend in close proximity to others for safer commuting.
- Wear a mask: face coverings that cover your nose and mouth are currently compulsory for most adults travelling on public transport or by taxi, carrying a spare is recommended.
- Carry hand sanitiser: while you are unlikely to find yourself far from a hand sanitising station, it’s a good idea to have your own supply, when eating lunch off-site for instance.
5 ways bosses can keep you safe
- Keeping a two-metre distance: with desks spaced at least two metres apart, reminders displayed and floor markings in areas where queuing is common, such as canteens or toilets, remaining a safe distance from your colleagues throughout the working day should be a simple adjustment.
- Limiting numbers: the size of the office and number of staff will dictate how many workers are allowed in at any one time and, where face to face meetings are unavoidable, attendees will be reduced to ensure social distancing is maintained, while access to communal areas such as kitchens will be limited.
- Office cleaning: offices will be cleaned thoroughly prior to opening and regularly thereafter. Desk-tops and work surfaces will be subject to regular cleaning with desk-clearing encouraged after each shift.
- Hand sanitising: individual hand sanitisers may be placed on each desk and/or sanitising stations installed. Signs will be displayed reminding employees to hand-wash for 20 seconds, not to touch their faces and use tissues if coughing or sneezing.
- Implementing NHS Test and Trace: if your workplace experiences high visitor volumes, it is likely your company will ensure all entrants provide NHS Test and Trace data including contact details, ensuring in the event of a visitor or staff member contracting COVID-19, all those they came into contact with can be informed and advised to self-isolate.
For more information visit gov.uk/check-how-to-return-to-work-safely
Great mix of working from home and in the office
Safe, flexible return to work has fast become a firm favourite among staff at one consultancy company. CEO Jennifer Crowther has spent recent months consulting with her staff on going back into the office. Hand sanitiser has been placed on each employee’s socially-distanced desk while hand-washing stations have been installed. Visor-wearing staff meet clients outside. An office cleaning routine has become the norm. “I did not impose a back-to-the-office regime. We have a schedule, we know who is in and when. If they want to come in outside of the schedule, they can.”
Business support key worker Emma Ward said: “It is good for our mental health to have people around us and see real people rather than just on a screen.” Finance assistant Holly Ford enthused: “I have really liked coming back. I have missed everybody. They feel like my family”. Yorkshire in Business chief Jennifer continued: “We are looking at adopting a four-day week in the office as the business thrives and we offer a better life-work balance.”
Find out more about working safely at gov.uk/coronavirus