As businesses in the UK prepare for the easing of lockdown restrictions in the coming weeks and months, millions of workers are facing a return to offices, warehouses and factories.
The chief concern for employers will be how to return to enough normality to maintain service levels and profitability while keeping their employees and customers safe and well. With social distancing measures designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to be important, and a renewed focus on proper hygiene, businesses will need to embrace a new norm.
In this blog, we take a look at five essentials for the post-lockdown workplace.
First and foremost, it will be important for employees to know what their employer expects of them in terms of social distancing, PPE and hygiene. Employers should set out clear instructions, and explain the consequences of non-compliance. Key to success will be open, honest and frequent dialogue, with regular briefings to answer questions, reminders about good hygiene, and guidance from occupational health and safety officers.
Verbal communication should be combined with visual reminders wherever possible. This might include:
- Floor markings to encourage employees and customers to keep their distance
- Signage around the workplace to remind staff of the need for social distancing
- High-visibility clothing for employees asking people to respect the two-metre rule
- Signposting to hand sanitiser stations
- Posters in toilets and kitchen areas reminding people to wash their hands.
For some businesses, this will be the first time they have had to ask their employees to wear face masks and/or gloves. Others will need to ensure that routine wearing of PPE in the workplace has not led to complacency. Regardless of where businesses are coming from, though, all will want to ensure their employees have the appropriate protection, and – if necessary – enforce its use.
Good hygiene will be more important than ever. As well as regular and thorough sanitisation of work areas, employers may – if they don’t already have them – wish to set up hand sanitiser stations that employees can use when they enter the workplace and at regular intervals throughout the day. Regular visual and verbal reminders will reinforce the importance of good hygiene and help employees to keep themselves and others safe.
Where it is not possible to maintain social distancing in the workplace, employers will want to ensure effective shielding is in place. This might include installing screens between work stations, providing employees with face shields, and/or placing temporary restrictions on visitors to the workplace, including contractors.
The right support
Last, but certainly not least, it will be crucial to provide a support system that will protect not only employees’ physical health, but also their mental and emotional health too. Taking accountability for their physical protection by providing clear guidance on expectations, investing in appropriate PPE or shielding measures, observing social distancing and promoting good hygiene will go a long way to making employees feel safe, secure and valued during this unsettling time. Employees should also be supported to stay at home if they experience symptoms of the virus, even if they are mild. And finally, don’t forget to talk to your employees and encourage them to talk to you. That’s the way we will all get through this – by working together.
For more information on protecting your employees against coronavirus, visit our dedicated coronavirus web pages or give us a call on 0121 749 4433.