Although current Government advice advises to work from home if you are able to due to the Coronavirus, over the coming weeks the government looks to be introducing a “workplace by workplace” guidance on how we can safely return to work. Starting with construction and manufacturing, it hopefully won’t be too long before other industries are given the go ahead to return, meaning it is vital that companies whose workforce have successfully adapted to their virtual workspace, have a protocol in place to welcome them back to the office.
While each company will need to tailor their guidance to their specific workspace, Jansons have provided a general guidance for a staggered return using the governments “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines with working examples to help generate your own ideas.
Thinking About Risk
“As in normal practice, workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer“UK Government COVID-19 Secure Guidelines
Employers are legally required to provide employees with specific information about health and safety risks and the measures being put in place to protect against those risks. With Jansons workforce featuring office workers, internal and external consultants, the protocol set out must meet the needs of all parties for everyone to be safe returning to work. For this, Jansons’ Managing Director and office staff outlined the base of the guidance regarding the needs of the office, discussion was invited to gain the knowledge and guidance of our skilled consultants who added how changes to the site visit process could limit the risk.
“Objective: To maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work, while in work and when travelling between sites”UK Government COVID-19 Secure Guidelines
Arriving at and Departing from Work
Minimising touch points for employees arriving at work is vital for limiting risk. Jansons are reducing the number of obstacles between the front door and desks by leaving all internal doors open and providing surgical gloves for use on the touch pad. Once inside, hand sanitiser and wipes should be accessible for use immediately after entering.
Appropriate signage providing guidance on social distancing and hygiene is in place and visible to all entrants to the office as a friendly reminder.
When leaving work, individuals should use anti-bacterial wipes on their keyboards and phones, and keep the surface of their desk clear.
While in the Office
Although our office is not cramped, maintaining a 2m distance between the normal eight people in the office is a near to impossible task. Jansons are introducing a shift pattern that is to be used when we start to occupy the office soon, with the hopes of allowing the creative collaboration which happens naturally in others presence whilst maintaining safety. The tracking of office occupancy will be done through an Outlook “Office Occupancy” diary, allowing workers to plan small internal meetings and catch ups without overloading the office, a maximum number of 4 people to be permitted in the office at once.
Continuing to utilise digital technology is key for a phased return to work. Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been staples in our work from home life, keeping us connected and on track with projects. Jansons plan to continue using Zoom for our weekly Monday morning meetings which involve the full team, who cannot be in the office together but can still achieve the work online.
In our office, with 2m distancing not possible and multiple desks sitting face-to-face with no room to manoeuvre otherwise, Jansons are introducing desk screens to separate people from each other whilst maintaining the important social aspect of being in an office.
Visiting External Sites
Within the development world, evaluating potential new sites is the basis of all projects. When considering external sites, the risks associated with an office building, for example, are significantly more than if the site is in an open field. An open field will allow 2m social distancing, and no contact points. With an external building, it is important to be respectful of the host company’s protocol, communicating with them before the visit to ensure their rules and restrictions are followed.
Overall, it is important to be kind and understanding of each other, this unprecedented time has been a difficult and anxious time for people. Although you might be coping with the current situation, a colleague may be struggling and may require a helping hand or simply some more time. Consideration is the key throughout the transition we continue to go through.