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Returning to the office? Here’s 6 steps that you need to consider as the country starts to reopen!

Over a year ago, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to develop, we were all in a situation where both employers and employees were all transitioning from working in the office to working from home.

The Government recently announced that the country’s final lifting of restrictions will be delayed until the 19th July 2021, where all restrictions will come to an end. It is expected to drop its advice that employees should work from home if they can, which will present a new challenge to employers; how do they introduce their workforce back into the traditional workplace setting?

To help manage this transition, we’ve compiled a list of simple actions to ensure you’re able to support your workers and team as we enter this next phase.

 

HR:4UK’s Top Tips

  1. Ensure regular Government guidance is communicated:

Communication is essential, but when you have your employees split between their homes and the office, ensuring important messages are read is vital.

Despite the delay in lifting the restrictions, employers should be ready for the influx of workers coming back into the office. It would be advisable for businesses to ensure they are regularly checking and reading Government guidance that applies to them.

Consider information like having a COVID-19 Risk Assessment or even something as simple as informing your staff who can visit the office and who must work at home. Pre-COVID, this would not have been an issue, but amid the pandemic, it is important that employees review, understand, and acknowledge this information. 

 

  1. Ensure you communicate with your team: 

You should make sure that you keep communicating with your team throughout the next stages of any changes you make to the working model. Some popular topics could include:

  • Sharing an updated COVID-19 Risk Assessment.
  • Keeping staff up to date with the process of returning to the office.
  • Speaking to your team and discussing the different working models to identify which will work best.

With so much uncertainty and conflicting information circulating, your employees must have clear, concise and correct information at hand. It’s just as essential to allow your staff to discuss any concerns they may have in returning to work and how you as the employer can help to alleviate them.

 

  1. Ensure that you have checked your updated policies

As a client, you’ll be aware of the library of employment policies you can access through your Employment Handbook, but have you checked out some of the latest updates?

In recent months, HR:4UK have introduced a COVID-19 Vaccination policy to help you manage aspects such as time off for vaccinations. If you have a large number of employees, you could consider a workplace vaccination program.

In addition to this, many of our other policies have been updated to reflect this new working environment and will continue to be updated throughout 2021 and beyond.

 

  1. Ensure your workplace is Health and Safety compliant: 

As an employer, you will have to take every precaution possible to protect your employees from any Health and Safety risks whilst at work. When we talk about COVID-19 and risk assessments, you will already know the importance of conducting one – you may have even used our free COVID-19 Risk Assessment template to undertake one yourself – but what about Health and Safety considerations?

If you’ve been away from your office for a significant amount of time in the past year, you will still need to carry out health and safety tests, such as your fire alarms or legionella testing your water, to name just two examples.

It’s important to remember your Health and Safety duties to your staff, and as such, to ensure that they’re up to date as people begin to return to the office.

 

  1. Ensure you have a contingency plan in place:

March 2020 was hectic for everyone. Overnight, we had to switch the way we all work and live, so you'll be forgiven if it wasn't 100% smooth sailing, but what would be a proactive step now is to reflect on what happened, including what went well and what didn't.

By doing this, you'll have a tried and tested contingency plan if something like this happens again, ensuring a minimalised impact on your team's output.

 

  1. Establish a ‘Whereabouts’ calendar: 

With many companies now having a hybrid approach to working, it’s not always obvious who will be where which can present challenges if you’re trying to coordinate meetings and other events with your employees.

By creating a transparent schedule of which–and how many–employees are coming into the office and then sharing that list, your team will be able to better plan out their week and ensure that they can schedule their tasks around the availability of others.

Let’s not forget that by having this information posted for everyone to see, you will also ensure that you won’t mistakenly have too many employees in the workplace at one time.