There’s a little bit of light at the end of the lockdown tunnel and organisations across the country are starting to think about getting back to business. But it won’t be a case of flinging open the doors and welcoming back your staff. COVID-19 is still a threat, and as a result, you will need to carefully prepare your business for operation.
This can be a daunting task for any employer, so we’ve put together some things for you to consider to get your business ship-shape for the post-pandemic world.
1. Location, location
Full-blown lockdown meant that many businesses shifted to remote working in order to keep things ticking over. But it’s now time to assess whether your business will be making this a more long-term arrangement or if your staff will need to head back to the workplace.
If you’re keeping your staff at home on a long term (or even permanent) basis, there are several things to bear in mind.
This includes having an up-to-date homeworking policy and data protection policy. The latter is especially important if your staff are bringing home sensitive and confidential information. Staff should also be given advice on fire and electrical safety.
A Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment should also be made of everyone’s home office to ensure your staff are protected from issues such as back pain and eye strain. If possible, can staff members take home their office chairs, laptop risers and other equipment? This could help them to maintain a safe working environment.
Maintain good communication with your staff too. There may be anxiety about staying at home or going back to work, so you may want to think about a part time arrangement, in which staff spend some of their time in the workplace and the rest at home.
2. Risky business
Every business has a legal duty to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment. Ideally, the results should be published on your company website.
The assessment needs to be easy to understand and allow you to confidently assess your business for needs such as PPE.
Once you have completed the assessment, display it and train your staff in its content.
3. Keep your distance
If your staff are heading back to work, they will still need to maintain social distancing.
This may mean that you have to redesign your workspace and walkthroughs so that a two-metre distance can be kept. Take a look around your workspace and see if you can open more entrances and exits in areas with heavy footfall and see if you can create a one-way system around the site.
Shields between workstations and staggered start and finish times can also help if distancing is a tricky issue in your workplace. You may prefer to establish a shift pattern to keep down the number of employees on site.
4. Scrub up
It feels as though we have been scrubbing our hands raw since COVID-19 began to make itself known but keeping up hygiene in the workplace will be key to keeping your staff safe.
Think about installing extra cleaning materials on desks, in kitchens and in toilets. You should make sure you provide antibacterial spray and wipes too – staff should then be encouraged to clean their workstations before and after use every day. Put out extra bins for cleaning wipes and PPE to keep things tidy and hygienic.
Communal equipment such as crockery is also now a no-no, so make sure staff know that they will need to bring in their own.
5. Burning question
With all the new cleaning processes, home working set-ups and social distancing plans to deal with, fire safety can be easily overlooked.
However, if your workplace is closed or its way of working will be changed, then you will probably need to update your fire risk assessment. You’ll also need to make sure you are confident about the safety of fire alarms, extinguishers, emergency lighting and fire doors. If you are in any doubt, get them tested or checked.
If your staff are coming back in shifts or if only a partial workforce is being called back, you will also need to check that you still have trained fire marshals on site. If you don’t, see if someone can be trained up.
Preparation is key
Making your business COVID-19 secure and getting things restarted can certainly be challenging. But you don’t have to do it from scratch.
If you have an ISO, you can use its framework of processes and procedures to help you adapt your business to the new normal. Construction firm LS Build did just that – you can find out how they used ISO 9001 to get ahead of the curve in our article.
But if you don’t currently have an ISO, you can chat to our team to find out what Standards could help your company to move forward. Simply get in touch at 0333 344 3646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more support and guidance, you can also get in touch with our sister company, Citation, to see what human resources and health & safety help they could provide. You can reach them at 0345 844 111 to get the ball rolling.