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Ensuring the office is safe for employees

office covid safety

Welcome Back: 7 Ways To Ensure Your Office Is Safe For Employees To Return

Across the UK, employers are preparing to welcome back employees to the office. Since lockdown certainly took its toll on both business and individuals, many are feeling eager to return to normal, or at least a ‘new normal.

To help businesses ensure their staff can work safely, the government has set a list of regulations and guidance for employers to follow. These regulations provide a standard that all employers must deliver.

Even with government regulations in place, it is still up to the employer to go above and beyond for their team, creating a safe environment for them to return.

Before doors can reopen, firms will have to conduct careful planning to put the necessary equipment in place. Additionally, they will have to enhance all health and safety measures before employees begin to return to work.

Taking all this into consideration, here are a few ways to ensure that your office is safe for the return of your employees.

office staff

Create Social Distancing Guides

When the time comes to reopen the office, implementing social distancing could be a challenge, especially for smaller offices. Government guidance suggests that where possible, employees should keep a two-metre distance. If this is not possible, having a one-metre distance will also be acceptable or trying to adhere to social distancing in any way possible. 

Adding social distancing floor stickers might make this a litter easier as it offers employees guidance and reassurance that they are not getting too close to one another.

 

Implement A One-Way System

Another way to implement social distancing in the office is by encouraging employees and visitors to use a one-way system. If you have two separate ways to get in and out of your building, consider utilising these so that employees do not risk close physical contact with one another.

 

Undergo A Deep Clean

As you look to reopen your office doors and aim to return to business as normal, attempt to create a clean and hygienic space as much as possible. Starting on a fresh slate will not only create a safe environment for employees to return to, but it will also show how seriously you as a business are taking health and safety precautions.

Provide Hand Sanitisers And Cleanliness Reminders

Cleanliness is key. When employees return, encourage thorough handwashing, provide hand sanitiser wherever possible and install health and safety posters throughout the entire office as regular reminders.

Consider Checking Electricals

Whilst this might not be a requirement, it is worth booking a qualified electrician to conduct electrical safety testing. For over a year, some of the electrical appliances in your office, in particular any kitchen appliances such as a kettle, have not been used. Having electrical safety testing completed will check for any possible electrical shock risks or fire hazards.

 

Check Air Quality And Ventilation

Air quality within an office plays a significant factor in the overall health and wellbeing of employees. Having good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

Before the pandemic, by law, employees had to ensure there was an adequate supply of fresh air (ventilation) within enclosed spaces of the office. Despite the pandemic, this requirement has not changed.

The two main ways to ensure that you are maximising the fresh air in the office is natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation (fans and air conditioning units). 

Firstly, natural ventilation relies on airflow through the air vents, doors and windows to the office, which can be partially or fully opened. Secondly, mechanical ventilation relies on fans or air conditioning units to bring fresh air from the outside in.

In addition to these two, using a combination of natural and mechanical ventilation, where mechanical ventilation relies on natural ventilation will help to maximise fresh air within the office.

Creating and adhering to a routine air-quality checklist will help to maintain acceptable ventilation and indoor air quality within the office. When checking factors such as the air quality, review the airflow, temperature and humidity. Also, consider reviewing contaminant-causing operations like maintenance and remodelling work.

 

If Possible, Make It Optional

The events of this past year will certainly have impacted each employee differently. For some, they are itching to return to the office so they can socialise, at a distance, with fellow employees. Others might find they are at their most productive in the office space, as they have struggled to separate work life from home life after spending such a long time working from home. 

However, there will be those that feel safer working from home, and others feel as though they have been at their most productive in their home environment.

Offering flexibility and reviewing everyone’s circumstances individually will be greatly appreciated by all employees. If your employees have proven that they can work productively from home, allowing them to continue doing so until they feel safe and comfortable to return to the office makes sense.

Whilst it is impossible to predict when your company will resume business as usual, the best thing to do is continue supporting employees in the best way possible. When the time to open your office doors finally comes around, take all the precautions necessary to create a healthy, productive and safe working environment for all those returning to the office.

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Posted by: Sarah Dixon | Posted on: May 21, 2021 | Posted in: HEALTH & WELLBEING

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