How to plan your return to the workplace
A return to the workplace as we know it is now looking closer. Happily it’s time to start looking forward. This blog looks at what you should be thinking of now to return to your business normal.
A return to the workplace
The Government have been careful to say that vaccinations alone will not be enough to keep us out of another lockdown. Therefore, you must continue to follow Government advice on social distancing, PPE and other working practices. Before your staff return to the workplace, look at your COVID risk assessment again. Is it still appropriate? Are there any additional measures you should put in place?
If you have more than 50 employees and meet certain criteria, you can register to order COVID tests. This could help prevent outbreaks in your business.
Has your fire prevention equipment been serviced recently? Fire servicing companies will be busy post lockdown so if your service is overdue, book it now.
Has anything changed? If you moved offices because you needed less space, have you confirmed this to your team in writing? Will you be adopting new practices? Now is a great time to put them into place.
Do any of your employees need to update their certifications, such as first aid, manual handling or safeguarding. If so, can you get these completed online before they return to the workplace?
What worked well?
Many of us have found that some things have worked surprisingly well over the last year. That being the case, why would you want to change them back?
With so much disruption from the pandemic, many people have found a different work/life balance which works better for them. According to a YouGov poll, 57% of people want to continue some form of working from home after the pandemic. Talk to your team now to understand their feelings on this important issue. Can you introduce a mix of home and office working and if so, how will it work? Should there be core office hours/days? What are the implications for the technology you need?
Daily morning briefings have helped remote teams keep in touch. Why not continue when you return to the workplace? Always remember to include anyone who is working from home that day.
After a year of zoom meetings, the way we do business is going to change. Your team may not need to go out to as many meetings. If so, what implication does this have on their work?
Alternatively, you may see this as an opportunity to catch up on business travel. If so, check whether any additional insurance or precautions need to be put in place. Remember, employees may need to be quarantined on arrival in the UK or abroad.
New joiners in lockdown
Any additional staff who joined you remotely will have missed several key stages of their induction. It is important to go back over the stages you have missed to help them settle into their new circumstances.
Arrange for them to be shown around the premises. Remember things such catering dos and don’ts, fire and first aid procedures as well as introducing them to key colleagues.
You will need to check their original passport or other documentation to confirm their right to work in the UK.
Your new employees may have met their colleagues online but missed out on the nuances that make teams tick, such as chatting about common interests, how they have their tea and the little things they find annoying. Social distancing permitting, how can you help your new colleagues catch up?
Get reacquainted with the workplace
To some extent or another, everyone has had difficulties during COVID. Your team may have concerns about their finances, family, anxiety about returning to work or have suffered a bereavement. Managers should be tasked with holding return to work meetings with every individual in their team. Focus on their wellbeing and any concerns they may have. If you don’t already have one, consider offering an employee support programme. Many companies offer this as part of a wider benefits package.
You may need to organise some refresher training, especially if you are bringing people back from furlough. You’ll need to make people aware of any changes in services, processes, and supplier arrangements.
You will also need to arrange retraining in your fire procedures and to do a fire evacuation test.
Be sensitive to how different people have been affected by COVID. Some people have been furloughed on a reduced income for sometime, while others may have been working harder than normal to keep things running. The uneven nature of this may lead to tensions.
Now is the time to look forward and plan for the return to the workplace. Good luck and please do contact me if you need any support.