How to Prepare a Return to Workplace Plan

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As concerns grew earlier this year about the pandemic, some businesses were able to quickly adopt a working from home plan. For others, remote work wasn’t a viable option, such as for those in the hospitality industry. While the pandemic is still an issue we shouldn’t ignore, many businesses, including offices, shops and restaurants, are reopening and planning for a return to the workplace. 

Employee and customer health and safety should be a number one priority, and that might mean making a few changes and enforcing some new rules. We’ve put together some top things to consider before you reopen your doors. Of course, always consult the appropriate government guidelines as well to ensure you are operating safely. 

 

Wear face coverings where necessary

While not mandatory, except on public transport, wearing a face-covering is encouraged in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It is a simple way to help people feel safe and stop any potential spreads. This is particularly important if you have employees interacting with customers or vulnerable people.

 

Hand sanitiser and deep cleaning

No longer liquid gold, hand sanitiser is now in steady supply and a necessity in many workplaces. Supply workers with hand sanitisers, especially in any communal areas, and offer it to customers at entry points. Hand sanitiser does not replace handwashing (for at least 20 seconds), so make sure you’re stocked up on hand wash and paper towels as well. 

It is more important than ever to invest in deep cleaning of the workplace. Office equipment like keyboards and mice, work tools, card payment machines, and any other shared items, harbour plenty of germs that can be easily transferred from one person to the next. Provide antibacterial wipes where possible to make sure work surfaces and tools are regularly cleaned and reduce the chance of contamination.

 

Retain social distancing measures 

We know you haven’t seen your WBF (work best friend) in months, but try not to run into each other’s arms to embrace when you see each other for the first time. Ensure workers, and customers where it applies, maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) wherever possible.

Try staggering arrival and departure times for work, marking specific spots in the kitchen to stand while making coffee, or using screens or barriers to separate workers from each other and workers from customers at points of service. 

 

Reduce face-to-face contact

By now you should have aced video conferencing, after months of working from home. If this is a format your team is happy with then it’s a good idea to continue, unless it’s absolutely necessary for an in-person meeting and there’s adequate space for social distancing. 

In a customer-facing environment, minimise staff-customer interactions by using ‘‘fixed teams or partnering’, so each person works with only a few others. 

 

Continue to remote work where possible

As we mentioned at the start of the article, all types of businesses can’t work remotely, even pre-COVID times. However, if possible, businesses should allow their employees to continue to work from home a while longer. For those struggling to work from home, whether that be from an internet connection, distractions, or even missing the social interaction, workplaces can open as an option for those who choose it. 

Some big companies have extended their remote working policy until the end of the year, while tech giants Facebook and Twitter have made this policy permanent. 

Regardless of when you are planning a return to the workplace, it is worth putting some time and effort into ensuring health and safety measures are in place before reopening. 

 

If you’re planning to reopen the workplace, or considering remote working for longer, we can help you with all your tax and accounting queries. Speak to one of our expert consultants by giving us a call on 020 8068 1688, sending us an email, or requesting a callback at a time that is convenient for you.