Lockdown has taken its toll on individuals and businesses alike, and it’s something that has got many people desperate to return to work—as odd as that sounds! During the first COVID-19 lockdown that was put in place in March, around 60 per cent of the UK’s adult population were working from home according to research, a sudden and unexpected transition that has been essential, yet very difficult, for many people.
But with some things returning back to relative normality, or at least a ‘new normal’, and some employees returning to their offices and workspaces, it’s important for all employers to consider how they can encourage a safe return for their staff. Even if you’re not ready to reopen yet, it’s something to consider for the future.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as opening the doors and calling your employees back to work as they did before the pandemic.
In relation to a safe return to the office and workplace in general, businesses will require numerous health and safety products and policies to ensure the safeguarding of their staff and visitors. Before doors can reopen, it’s imperative that employers plan carefully and meticulously to put the necessary protective equipment and other frameworks in place so as to enhance health and safety measures before employees return.
With this in mind, here are some ways that you can ensure a smooth and safe return to the office:
As an employer, the responsibility is yours to stay on top of all the recent information and act accordingly. Remember, even when the government says it’s possible to return to the office, that doesn’t mean that you have to. And with a second lockdown potentially looming as more and more parts of the UK are put into ‘Tier 3’, now might not be the best time to do this.
Instead, keep an eye on government guidance and make a carefully considered decision that’s based on the needs of not only your business but your employees, too. Remember, if your employees can work remotely then they should continue to do so.
In the fight against COVID-19, cleanliness is key. Although handwashing remains the most effective way to kill viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens on our hands, hand sanitisers are also super effective and are ideal because they’re more convenient.
You should provide a range of wall-mounted, freestanding, and desktop hand sanitiser dispensers that dispense strong alcohol hand sanitiser to ensure effectiveness. It’s also a good idea to provide alcohol-free hand sanitiser for employees who can’t use alcohol-based products due to skin sensitives or religious reasons.
You can read more about hand sanitiser and learn about the products we’ve got available in our hand sanitiser guide.
If you do re-open the office during this uncertain period in the pandemic, social distancing needs to be a priority—and this could be a challenge. While it may not be possible to insist that workers strictly observe two-metre distancing at all times, they should try to adhere to social distancing in any way they can and wherever possible. Tools such as distancing floor stickers and reminder posters will make this easier, offering people guidance and reassurance that they’re not getting too close to one another.
You can also aid social distancing by implementing a one-way system and encouraging people to use it. If you have multiple ways in and out of your building or office, consider how these could be utilised so that your staff members aren’t risking close physical contact.
Before your employees return to the office or workplace, you should have the entire space deep clean. Not only will a clean and fresh slate create a much safer environment, but it’ll demonstrate your commitment to safety to your employees, meaning that they’ll be less hesitant about their return.
A single deep clean isn’t enough, though. The reality of operating an active office or workspace during the pandemic is that you’ll need to significantly increase your professional cleaning efforts. This will probably mean paying additional cleaners to come in and clean the office more regularly, before, during, and after office hours, especially in communal and other shared spaces such as kitchenettes and meeting rooms.
If you want to go the extra mile (and you really should!), then consider providing your employees with PPE equipment such as face masks and gloves. This would be especially well-received (and mandatory) in a non-office environment such as a warehouse or workshop where employees regularly move around and come into contact with one another.
In an office setting, you should put up screens between desks and other areas with high footfall (i.e. in between two “lanes” in a two-way corridor where it’s possible to split the corridor in two to implement one-way systems on either side) so as to mitigate the risk of spread even further.
Managers and supervisors should be encouraged to conduct one-to-one meetings with staff members returning to work wherever possible. This will make sure that your employees feel supported and that their needs are being listened to.
Chances are that each one of your employees has had a wildly different lockdown experience—some may have thrived in the home while others may have suffered from loneliness, anxiety, or stress related to a myriad of issues. The only way that you’ll be able to offer the support that each staff member needs is by listening to them and take your time to understand their individual circumstances.
As eager as you might be to re-open your office and start getting people back to their desks, ask yourself whether it’s 100 per cent necessary to do this right now. For those of you who are dead set on re-opening, take into consideration that each employee will be in a very unique position. For some, remote working might still be a safer and more productive option.
To that extent, why not re-open the office for those who want to return and still allow people to work remotely if they choose to?
Your employees will appreciate the flexible approach and that you’re accounting for employees individually rather than compelling everybody to do the same thing at the same time.
After all, if you’re a business that can operate remotely, it makes sense to allow people to continue doing so for the foreseeable future if that’s what will make them feel most comfortable. This approach will help keep morale and mental health high, something which boosts your bottom line through motivated employees and positive company culture.
Even if you’re not quite ready to re-open the office just yet, it’s something you need to start strategising and planning for in the long-term. Unless you plan on staying 100 per cent remote, there will come a time when people begin working from the office again. And when this happens, you’ll need the right safety measures in place.
At Hand Sanitiser Station we sell a range of hand sanitiser dispenser and hand sanitation products like gels and dispensers ideal for use in an office environment. We sell to both private individuals and businesses/companies that are looking for a one-stop-shop for all their hand sanitation needs.