The recent announcement by Boris Johnson was classed as very vague by some people and others felt it was quite hard to unpick. However, many agree that a lot of questions were raised around returning to work. Who should be returning to work and how could businesses support their employees returning to work?
The message that was clear in the briefing was the economy. The Government want the economy to restart and they feel that getting people back to work is a key part of doing so. However, this shift was never going to be possible overnight. Boris Johnson stated that businesses will need to secure the safety of their works first and foremost, and then workers could return to the workplace.
There is a difference between regaining some semblance of professional life as it was before the coronavirus pandemic and remaining remote for the foreseeable future. This is a big barrier for some business owners to overcome.
The Biggest Barriers Faced When Bringing People Back To The Workplace
The key element, you won’t be surprised to hear, is health and safety. Many businesses have received recommendation that a deep clean is required before workers can return to the business. This includes foyers, offices, desks, toilets, kitchens and more. Some businesses have been told to leave all doors open and have sanitiser gel available in all common areas. Strict instruction on sharing spaces, social distancing and hand washing must be shared with employees before they return to work.
The maintenance of social distancing will be easier in some workplaces than others. Perspex screens between desks are a good way of minimising contact between employees. Businesses need to be looking at ways people can work in small environments, while social distancing and staying within the workplace.
It is also essential that business owners consider how employees will get to and from work safely. If the main transport for employees is by train or tube, it may not be possible for the office to reopen. If employees use a bus provided by the business or carpool to get to and from work, this will need to be look at before opening the office and returning people to the workplace.
The CIPD Questions To Ask Yourself Before Bringing Workers Back To Your Workplace
CIPD (Chartered Institute for People Development) have put together three questions. Employers should ask themselves these questions before considering the return of employees to the workplace.
Is It Essential?
Can people work from home or do they need to come into the workplace? Could your business use the Government Job Retention Scheme while you get the workplace ready for their safe return?
Is It Safe?
As an employer, you have a duty of care to identify and manage risks for your employees. You need to put social distancing measures in place. You may choose to change working hours to reduce the risk of exposure and arrange for increased workplace cleaning too.
Is It Mutually Agreed?
The research by CIPD found that four in 10 employees are anxious, worried or concerned about returning to the workplace. It is essential that there is a clear dialogue between employers and employees so worries can be raised and dealt with. It is important that employees do not feel like they have been forced back into work. There will also need to be flexibility from both parties to overcome the barriers.
If you need help overcoming the biggest barriers of bringing people back to the workplace; please contact us now. WE can talk through some communication options and how we can support you with these.
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