Getting back to the office - Covid 19
16 Jul 2020

Getting ‘back’ to a different workplace – Covid 19

Out with the old in with the new

In normal times, going back to the office usually meant returning from a well-earned holiday. Back to the dreaded daily commute, an overflowing inbox and colleagues not interested in hearing about your incredible view of the sunset or the shark you saw when you were snorkelling.

However in a post lockdown world, getting back to work has a completely new meaning. Employees are likely to have been working from home, so their inboxes should be manageable. The traffic is probably lighter and parking easier than they are used to. But, once they get into the office, they are likely to see even more changes brought on by the global pandemic.

Keeping staff and visitors safe

Business owners and managers have a duty to keep their staff and visitors safe, and to ensure that they continue to feel safe in the medium and long term. Keen to start making money again, firms will have spent the last few weeks getting their offices and factories ready for their workforce to return. Bosses will want to both comply with health and safety guidelines and encourage reluctant employees back from their cosy home offices.

The new office layout and social distancing

The post-coronavirus workplace and employers are going to have to carry out a specific risk assessment to include at the very least a one-way system, floor and wall signage, social distancing and extensive hand washing reminders.

Desks and workspaces will be set apart and meeting rooms reconfigured to allow for social distancing. Where possible bosses will have ensured that masks are available, with hand sanitising gel conveniently placed around the workplace. Canteen or restaurant facilities are likely to come with new guidelines and the toilets may have a ‘one at a time’ rule.

Health and safety is now everyone’s concern

The health and safety of employees will be at the forefront of every business owner’s mind, now more than ever. Gone are the days of health and safety being an obligation, employees and visitors alike will be expecting that a high level of planning has gone into making their working environment safe. Employers will need to make sure their employees and visitors actually feel safe and see everyone around them playing their part, so a strong management team will be required.

How to assess your new procedures

A health and safety audit is a quick and efficient way to check that guidelines are being met. And in the longer term, a well-planned, up to date health and safety management system will ensure that the welfare of a business’s people remains a key priority.

As more and more people come back to the office, factory or retail outlet, distancing measures may change. And of course, human nature means that the more comfortable we become at work, the less likely we are to remember the importance of effective hand washing and social distancing.

A structured safety management system

A business committed to health and safety will have a robust management system in place that includes simple, regular reviews and amendments where necessary, to keep its people safe not just now, but in a post-pandemic world.

None of us know what to expect of the new normal, but one thing is true. We will all be looking after ourselves – and others - in a much better way for a long time to come. Whether you are at home, at the shops or at work, that surely has to be a good thing.