It is inevitable—we have to ease back to work sooner rather than later. But in a post-coronavirus pandemic world, the easing may not be that easy.
While the government is urging Britain to ‘get back to work’, the new COVID-19 Secure Guidelines state that employers are obligated to provide and maintain a safe workplace environment for employees, customers, and visitors.
The guidelines ultimately focus on five key points:
- Work from home if you can.
- Conduct COVID-19 risk assessments.
- Create 2-meter social distancing spaces.
- Manage transmission risks.
- Reinforce cleaning processes on touchable surfaces.
While the ‘new normal’ may take some getting used to, businesses have a duty to help educate the general public, namely your employees and customers.
If precautions are ignored, there is a risk of further coronavirus outbreaks. And that could prove disastrous for the economy and the future of many businesses.
Revised company policies will be required to allow flexibility and limitations where necessary. Personal protection equipment (PPE) also shows you take health and safety seriously.
The initial upheaval may feel like a dead weight, but if positive action prevents further outbreaks, the disruption is a small price to pay.
Post-COVID-19 Office Policies
Many employers will need to explore how they can manage social distancing protocols. To limit the number of people in the workplace at any one time, consider whether your employers can work from home and install telecommuting policies or introduce flexible work hours and stagger shifts.
Employees are advised to self-isolate at home if they feel ill and show symptoms of COVID-19. Government guidelines also recommend that employers take the temperature of their workforce several times a day.
Should any of your employees report symptoms of COVID-19 while in the workplace, an isolation area should be available to house potentially infectious individuals. Health and safety training should be updated so employees understand COVID-19 protocols.
Encourage frequent and thorough hand washing. Employers are also advised to provide hand gel sanitizers, preferably hands-free where appropriate. Sanitizing gel should contain at least 60% alcohol.
Secure Workplace Office Designs
Some firms will need to rethink their office design strategy. The pre-pandemic era had seen a rise in agile office designs that gave employees the flexibility to work in multiple locations around the office.
Mobility is no longer an option, as staff should be discouraged from sharing phones, desks, small offices, work tools, and other various pieces of office equipment. A return to dedicated desks is the sensible option.
You don’t have to revert back to the confinement of personal cubicles, although 3-way sneeze screens that restrict the movement of contagious particles are advisable. When it is impossible to adhere to the 2-meter social distancing rules, people should wear appropriate face masks or face shields with plastic visors.
Employees should be kept informed and educated about COVID-19 prevention measures from time to time. Reinforcing health and safety advice minimizes the risk of further outbreaks.
Taking precautionary steps to create a coronavirus-secure workplace will help quell the concerns of employees. By demonstrating to employees that you are taking every appropriate measure to protect their health, you can reinstall confidence and help people ease into the new normal more easily.
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