Return to Work safely after the COVID 19 Pandemic
Now there is a road map out of the COVID 19 pandemic what will returning to work safely look like?
Will we go back to life as we knew it or are there learning points and improved practices that we can take from the last 12 months and change the way we work?
As with any changes to working practices pre and post COVID 19; these will need to be considered in a risk assessment, a document in itself that is likely to be common place in more businesses now than it was before. So what control measures and ways of working might we carry forward into life after lockdown?
Technology has definitely been a saving grace when it comes to keeping business communication going, enabling social distancing and reducing contact. Whilst we are all probably ‘zoomed out’ there is no denying that virtual meetings are accessible and time saving and the more effective way to hold some appointments where scheduling everyone’s availability, the logistics of getting everyone in the same place and costs for venue hire are considered. So for businesses conscious of keeping costs down, continuing to meet virtually in some cases may be a way forward. Also for those wanting to be environmentally conscious, reducing travel on the roads, rail and even air will be a step in the right direction.
However there is a lot to be said for meeting face to face to build relationships and to deliver the right message whether that be good, difficult or bad news! So coming up with a mix of online and in person meetings will give the best of both.
Keep it clean
So if we do start visiting other premises again what precautions should we continue to take? Hygiene and cleanliness have been paramount over the last 12 months from touchpoint cleaning to fogging as part of a deep clean. There will be no harm done in keeping up a significant level of cleanliness for the benefit of all and to prevent the spread of all infectious diseases, not just COVID. The wall mounted hand sanitisers can stay, signage to remind people to wash their hands remain and regular cleaning of shared touched items such as phones and other office equipment to be the norm.
Other ways of reducing contact and utilising technology is to continue on the theme of the QR code for NHS test and trace and get your visitors to electronically check in, the technology is easily accessible to create apps and QR codes for this, with the option of taking it to the next level to ask visitors about any possible recent contact with someone with COVID and advising them of your current safety measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Work from home
Finally, will we actually fully return to the office? Many businesses have facilitated home working that never even considered it before and for some it has meant greater flexibility in working hours and childcare provision. There have been concerns that complete home working for some may leave employees feeling isolated and affect their mental health, if they have no need as part of their role to attend meetings, visit clients or travel for work so this should be carefully considered. However there is much more scope and more acceptance of home working as part of a blended approach to an employees work location now, than 12 months ago.
So in all the excitement of getting back to “normality” there is opportunity to review what that looks like for the way we work. To ensure we safely return to work following the COVID 19 pandemic for our employees, visitors and clients with a safe working environment.