Gradually, we are beginning to see the slow return of staff to offices, where remote working hasn’t been possible during lockdown. This will continue to increase over the coming weeks, but we aren’t out of the woods yet – social distancing still needs to be practised. The Government has released guidance notes for offices and call centres and tips on how to work safely on your return. The full comprehensive guide can be accessed here, but we have put together some considerations as a quick reference below.
Preparing to return to work
Your employer is responsible for ensuring protection for you and your colleagues in the workplace, if working from home is not an option. Everyone will need to work together to assess and manage risks associated with Covid-19 however so you will need to play your part. Employers should have a thorough discussion with you on risk management, so you can be involved in making decisions that will impact your health and safety when it comes to performing your job, as you know your day to day routine and tasks best.
Your employer should also consider other elements such as staggered start and end times to the working days, as well as other methods of limiting congestion in the office. This might include staggered lunch breaks or one way movement into and out of the building.
Safety considerations and steps to take yourself when at work
When returning to work, the following risk management procedures should be implemented:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Apply hand sanitiser when this is not possible.
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces frequently, especially high touch surfaces such as door handles, hand rails and light switches. Perhaps take your own cleaning supplies to work so you can keep your immediate area clean yourself.
- Stay 2m apart from your colleagues wherever possible.
- Avoid sharing pens, notepads and other shared office items such as rubber stamps. Our motto is don’t share a stamp – get your own!
- Consider sitting back to back or side to side, instead of face to face with your colleagues. Rearrange your desk to make this possible.
- Keep to contained teams instead of mixing with the wider work force.
- Consider using the stairs instead of taking the lift to avoid close contact with others. If using the lift is essential, keep as much space between you and other occupants as possible and stand back to back or side to side.
Ultimately, if you absolutely cannot work from home, your employer needs to determine if you can safely carry out your job in the office and adhere to the guidelines.
We envision it will be a long time before a true return to normality, if ever it comes, so it is important to take steps to keep yourself and your colleagues safe by practising social distancing in the office.