business colleagues working at a busy open plan office

How to manage a Safe and Productive Return to Work

A difference of opinions has been evident since the majority of COVID-19 restrictions were lifted on 19 July. Many people are relieved, keen to get out and about and back to work, while others remain anxious. Then there are those in between who are happy to have more freedom but remain optimistically cautious. With the continual rise in cases, specifically the Delta variant, it’s not surprising that many remain anxious. It’s also hardly surprising that a huge number of business owners, leaders and CEOs are relieved that they can get back to ‘business as usual’ after the previous 18 months.

But we all know that business is not back to normal and will probably never be the same again. COVID-19 hasn’t magically gone. Thankfully, the vaccination programme is proving to be instrumental in helping the UK return to a semblance of normalcy, thus the recent lifting of restrictions. Indeed, the Government have advised that people should continue social distancing, wearing masks and being vigilant in our hygiene measures; they simply removed the legal ramifications to this advice.

Why Should People Return to the Workplace?

LCMB believes that offices should deliver an excellent employee experience even in a post COVID-19 world. We’ve all worked from home for so long that many people have become isolated and even struggled with their mental health. Work often provides what people cannot get at home – a sense of purpose, social interaction, creativity and pride in their work. To help in that endeavour, workplaces should feel collaborative, supportive, enabling people to perform at their best.

The office is where organisations can really deliver a concentrated experience of their culture.

While keen to get people back into the workplace, we must also be mindful of their mental health and wellbeing, keeping communications open for all. For that reason, blended remote/workplace options are particularly beneficial. 

Updating Processes and Protocols

So, what do you need to do to help your employees want to return to work and to make it a safe place to be? Well, actually it may only take a few adjustments to the activity you’ve probably already been doing over the past few months.

  • You’ll need to carry out regular risk assessments to see where COVID-19 transmission risks are.
  • You’ll need to continue with all the cleaning, hygiene and handwashing protocols.
  • Continue all the ventilation and air conditioning safe practice methods, ensuring only fresh air is used and air is not recirculated.
  • You must talk to your employees and share any and all health and safety changes to help them understand what to expect.
  • Keep in regular contact with home workers to safeguard their mental health, helping them to feel a valued part of the organisation.
  • Vunerable worker must continue to be protected.
  • Keep one-way system and all the signage in place.
  • Keep workstations further apart.
  • Encourage the use of face masks in busy areas.
  • Continue online workshops – a noticeably improved interaction has been noticed that in-the-room workshops.
  • We go go into more detail about how to carry out all the above in our July webinar: Managing a Safe and Productive Return to Your Workplace. Here, you’ll find more suggestions on keeping your people and buildings safe while creating environments conducive to improved performance. 

A safe yet popular method of making your workplaces safer is using a blended working approach. Look at different working models to find out what works best, such as scheduling certain teams to be in the office on specific days. Or everyone to be in on a Wednesday, say.

Build on the benefits we discovered when working from home. Maintain online meetings, saving people from the need to be grouped together in a room with windows open for ventilation in the middle of winter.  

Re-evaluate Buildings and Estates

We have have a wonderful opportunity to re-evaluate our businesses both inside and out. With fewer people in the workplace at any one time, is there an opportunity to shrink down and reduce your footprint?

This could save both money on resources and may help work towards your zero-carbon status in the years to come.

You’ll find more information in our recent webinar, Managing a Safe and Productive Return to Your Workplace, which you can watch here.

Alternatively, if you would like to have a discussion on how to risk assess, put systems in place and successfully restart your workplace, do contact our Founder and MD, John O’Brien, on 01295 722823 or [email protected]

However much we’ve suffered throughout this pandemic, we cannot deny that COVID-19 is the catalyst for reimagining how our workplaces can be healthier, higher performing, more productive, and great places to work.

 

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