Preparing to return to the office

Wednesday 7 April 2021

return to the office

Although the government hasn’t changed their ‘work from home, if possible’ message, there are promising signs of a slow return to normality and possible return to the office. The vaccine is being successfully rolled out throughout the UK, the rate of infection is in a gradual decline and non-essential shops are preparing to reopen in April. In view of these changes, you’re probably starting to think about what you need to put in place to get your business and employees ready to return to the office when allowed. Luckily, we’ve collated our five top tips for ensuring success when safely returning to your workplace.

Tip 1: Plan an office rota for your return to the office

Although it seems unlikely that any business will mandate you to have a rota for employees coming back into the office, it is a sensible thing to do, nonetheless. Adopting a rota will ensure that your employees are able to effectively manage social distancing and it’ll minimise unnecessary contact between any groups. Your rota will want to be mindful of any team members who need to be in on the same day (if they work within a certain area), as well as which employees are most required for day-to-day activities, with the most pivotal members of your team being allocated office time with the most frequency. An effective rota also helps to limit the possibility of staff illness, as you’ll be maintaining a COVID-secure workspace.

Tip 2: Know who’s been vaccinated

While it’s possible to put in place a policy which requires employees to notify you when they’ve had the vaccine, we wouldn’t recommend it, as they may feel pressured to give over personal information. Instead, we suggest sending out an email to your employees saying that you’re looking forward to welcoming everyone back in the future, that you want to do this as safely as possible and to do this, it would help if everyone could let you know when they’re going to be having their vaccination. This way, you’ll probably get the maximum number of responses and you’ll keep your team happy.

Its worth noting that different groups of people are going to be getting the vaccine at different times, although the latest projection is that all adults (over-18s) will be vaccinated by June. The main factor that the NHS works by when offering the jabs is age, so it’s likely that your younger employees will have to wait longer before being vaccinated. However, it’s also important to remember that some of your employees – most likely older ones – still might not be able to come into the office when restrictions ease, this may be because they fall within the ‘extremely vulnerable’ category and as such won’t feel comfortable returning to the office despite having the vaccine. These are all important factors to consider when planning for your return to the office.

Tip 3: Ensure your workplace is COVID-secure

It’s never too early to start ensuring your workspace is COVID-secure, this will include minimising touch points, giving employees the necessary equipment – such as hand sanitiser – to keep safe and perhaps introducing policies such as a staggered lunchbreak. If you’re with a serviced office provider, it’s important that you speak to them to ensure they’re doing everything they can to promote a safe workplace.

As a serviced office provider, we’re leaving no stone unturned in our pursuit of ensuring all our customers are safe in our office. We’ve changed policies when necessary, such as the rules for accessing the toilets, provided hand sanitiser and other cleaning equipment and have even knocked down some walls to make communal areas open plan so that our tenants are not exposed to coronavirus through unnecessary contact points.

Tip 4: Keep your employees informed

Your employees are going to have worked from home for over a year by the time they return to the office and, as such, it’s important to remember that the return may be anxiety-inducing for some members of staff. The best way to navigate this is to keep your employees informed at all stages in the process, making sure you give them advanced warning when you think you’ll be returning to work. We also advise managing expectations as to what the return will look like, so that everyone understands what’s expected of them and what to expect of others.

Tip 5: Commission any relevant risk assessments

It’s important that you abide by the legal health and safety regulations when you return to the office. It’s likely that you worked with a health and safety risk assessor over the summer if your team briefly return to the office, but it’s also worth noting that the government’s regulations might have changed by the time we’re allowed to return, so your current policies might be out of date. This is also likely to be the case if your business has changed since your last health and safety review, for example, you might have more employees, more high-risk employees or have moved to a new office provider, in this case, it’s good practice to invest in a new health and safety assessment.

If you’re planning to return to the office once we’re allowed, then please get in touch to find out how our serviced offices can help facilitate your company’s growth.

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