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COVID-19 – A Guide to Returning to the Workplace

The threat from COVID-19 is unprecedented in our generation, and the reaction from the majority of the population to lockdown has been admirable. However, it has caused an undeniable strain on business.

In recent weeks many organisations have been permitted to return to work after easing of lockdown. Although this presents an opportunity to try and return to business as usual, particularly for organisations who have furloughed employees, many business owners remain uncertain.

There are concerns regarding how best to achieve a return to work while promoting a safe working environment and minimising risk from a virus that is still a threat.

Government Guidance

In May, the Government provided guidance for organisations returning to work, subsequently updated in June, which focuses on the following five points.

1. Work from home, if you can

2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions

3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible

4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk

5. Reinforce cleaning processes

The full guidance is provided here, along with additional industry specific guidance.

However, there are also some extremely useful resources available from the Peninsula Group, a company who consult on employment and HR, health and safety management, insurance, employee well being, and many other employment related matters.

We have provided links to relevant resources freely available from Peninsula below. However, here are some of the takeaway’s we found most useful.

How to Prepare

Returning to your usual place of work must begin with a risk assessment. This process allows you to breakdown every aspect of your work and workplace environment. You can review your entire staff and assess what services can remain in a remote working environment while maintaining their efficacy.

Once you have decided upon the extent of the workforce returning to work, you need to start looking at how to prepare and maintain facilities for their safety.

Visitors to your premises also need to be considered. How are you going to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of your employees?

Access and egress need to be defined, clear and kept clean

It may be prudent to deep cleanse your premises prior to anyone returning. Following this you need to assess hygiene, working and recreational facilities. Access and egress need to be considered. You must ensure you can cater for your workforce while maintaining the recommended social distancing. Shared facilities and equipment also need to be kept clean.

You will also need to re-assess all procedures relating to such as fire evacuation procedures, team meetings, and regular and scheduled training events.

Each aspect of the daily working routine must be scrutinised to ensure you have covered every eventuality.

It will be important to involve your staff in this dialogue. You could be forgiven for not thinking of everything but you are still accountable. So avail yourself of your resources, the greatest of which is always your employees.

Other Useful Resources

There is a wealth of supplementary information to assist you. The following articles are freely available and will aid your risk assessment process.

Return to work after coronavirus—lockdown guide

How to become a COVID-19 secure workplace

How to prepare for life after lockdown

Or download the following free guide

Getting Back to Work After Lockdown

The Final Word

Many organisations are delaying returning to work while speculation remains about a second peak in the disease, and if you can maintain your business remotely then you should certainly do so for now.

However, the nature of some businesses, simply prevents this and as such it is vital that they assess their individual situation to allow them to put the necessary procedures in place prior to bringing their workforce back. This does not need to be an over complicated or excessively costly procedure, but it does necessitate due care and attention in the planning stage to ensure it is appropriate and effective.

We hope that you have found the information and resources shared here to be useful. Whether you are returning to your usual workplace at this time or not, we would like to remind you that we remain open for business and always happy to discuss any funding requirements you may have. Get in touch today.