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The UK has finally entered the very first stages of the phased move out of lockdown and slow return to the workplace. It’s very early days, and the transition will be conducted with extreme caution over the coming months, but it is nevertheless vital that employers start considering now how best to manage the return to the office in order to ensure that staff are safe and businesses thrive in the ‘new normal’.
Here is a list of some practical issues to consider to keep the process as smooth and stress-free as possible:
Protecting the health and safety of employees should be a key driver of any decisions made moving forward. Make sure to follow national and global guidance on how to ensure any strategies implemented prioritise team safety at all times.
Carry out thorough risk assessments before anything else. These should cover risks posed by premises, working conditions, and the structure of the workforce itself. Advance planning on how to adapt all parts of the business in line with government guidance is the crucial first step to ensuring the workplace is safe moving forward.
Transparent and consistent communication with your staff will help them feel included and safe in what will undoubtedly be an anxious time. Lay out your plans for the coming months, and explain why you have made the decisions you have. This is also a great opportunity to provide guidance on workplace measures and protocols you expect employees to adopt when they return.
Consider your employees’ individual situations as much as you can. Everyone will have had a unique experience over the last few months; some employees may have suffered illness and bereavement and others may have significantly different domestic situations that they will need to prioritise to some extent for the foreseeable future.
Being inclusive of everyone’s needs and subsequently getting the best from your employees during the transition will require flexibility regarding a number of different factors, including, remote working, working hours/shift times and travel.
It’s also important to review your sickness, health and safety, homeworking and disciplinary policies, as the huge changes over the last few months will likely have affected these significantly. Make sure you establish a policy on Covid-19/infectious diseases so employees are clear on action to take when they present certain symptoms such as a high fever, and you are similarly clear on the instructions you should give if a person displays symptoms while at work.
Finally, be mindful that the situation is constantly changing and nothing is yet set in stone, so you should be cautious about making any long-term commitments to employees and make sure that any return-to-work measures are constantly reviewed and adapted to meet evolving government guidance.
This news was brought to you by Morgan Pryce, a specialist tenant acquisition agent with offices in Oxford Circus and the City. Morgan Pryce specialises in search, negotiation and project management and works exclusively for tenants.