Ready to get back in the office? Or should it be, is your office ready for your return?! After months of working from kitchen tables, beds or the sofa, there are a few practical things to consider for making your office return Covid-safe for you and your teams. We spoke to Allia Future Business Centre’s Facilities Manager – Kate Hughes about what steps should be in place for a smooth and safe transition back into the office:
Make sure your office is ‘Covid-secure’ by creating a Covid-safe workplace strategy:
• Complete Covid risk assessments – this will help identify any potential hazards and reassure staff that you have things covered. The Health and Safety Executive has a handy template to download here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/assets/docs/risk-assessment.pdf you can use this document to help make sure you have covered what you need to do to keep office users safe as they return. Keep these regularly updated.
• Increase cleaning and sanitizing – giving extra attention to shared spaces within your office, and of course, wash your hands, wear a mask and keep your distance (hands, face, space). We expect everyone in our office to wipe clean their desks in the morning and when they’re leaving for the day. Rest assured, all communal areas in our centres have an increased cleaning and sanitizing policy in place.
• Make sure there’s good ventilation when in the office – good ventilation (including air conditioning) can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. Opening windows is a simple step you can take to improve ventilation.
• Make space! – make sure everyone has enough space to maintain social distancing and feel comfortable. Try to maintain the 2 metres apart advice but if this isn’t viable, keeping 1 metre apart with ‘risk mitigation’ is acceptable. Use screens to create a barrier between desks even further, or if they are simply too close, cordon some off to ensure they’re not used.
•Be more flexible with working hours – being flexible about who works where when will reduce the number of people in the office and reduce footfall in the morning and evening at traditional ‘rush-hours’. Consider creating a staff rota so that there are a maximum number of people in at any one time. For larger team meetings, where it’s not possible to have everyone in the same place, use video conferencing. Our centre users can book the ‘Meeting Owl’ for multi-location calls.
• Be patient with everyone – many will have different feelings around returning to the office, as we highlighted in our recent ‘Returning to the office – one size doesn’t fit all’ blog, so it’s important to listen to individuals’ concerns and treat everyone accordingly. Also remember that some organisations will still be working on lower capacity and need more space and time to complete tasks.
• Important to remember – it sounds obvious, but no person should go to the office if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have developed symptoms and should adhere to advice set out on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ It’s advisable to keep a record of who is in the office daily, as if you are unlucky enough to have someone test positive within your team, you will be able to identify and trace any other users who may have come into contact with them.
If you think you need more space to maintain good social distancing: sales plug – we have larger offices available in our centres. Have a look here: https://futurebusinesscentre.co.uk/available-office-space
And for our current Future Business Centre users – we have stayed in touch since the first lockdown, but we understand you may still have questions about returning to your office, so please do get in touch, as we are here to help you readjust and come back stronger: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Health and Safety Executive – Making your workplace COVID-secure https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely
NHS advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), including symptoms, testing, vaccination and self-isolation. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/