Business colleagues greeting with elbow in office
Business colleagues greeting with elbow in office

13 Tips for a Safe Office Return After Covid-19

 

Many of us have been working from home for over a year now due to coronavirus, so now that we can return to the office that may come with mixed feelings.

 

No matter how you or your employees are feeling about returning to the office after Covid-19, there are steps that employers must take to keep employees safe and make the return to the office comfortable for everyone. If you’re making a coronavirus back-to-work plan, these are the things you’ll need to do to ensure everyone is safe in the office.  

 

 

Requirements for returning to the office after Covid-19

The government have created guidance for working safely in the office during coronavirus. Here are the key things you need to ensure your office abides by.

Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment

Employers have a duty of care to keep their employees safe at work, which includes taking steps to protect workers from coronavirus. The Health and Safety Executive has created a guide to completing a risk assessment, which all employers must do.

NHS test and trace

To help break the chains of transmission of coronavirus, keep a record of all staff and contractors for three weeks. That way if anyone tests positive for coronavirus you will know who has come into contact with them, and they will be able to self-isolate to prevent spreading the virus.

What employers need to do when reopening offices after Covid-19

When creating a coronavirus back to work plan, here’s what employers can do to keep people safe in the office.

Set measures to prevent overcrowding in the office

Even when social distancing isn't directed by the government, it's sensible to start with having fewer people in the office to prevent risk of spreading and ensure team members feel secure

If your office is quite small, you might want to consider what the return to the office means for your business. Some companies are trialling their employees splitting their time between office working and home working, whether on a rota system or a team-by-team basis.

Visitor protocols

Ensure any visitors to the office – whether freelancers, clients or friends and family - follow test and trace protocols.

More regular cleaning

Maintaining high levels of hygiene in the office will help to prevent the spread of the virus. You might need to ask your cleaners to spend slightly longer each day or ensure that your team has the necessary cleaning products to sanitise their workstations at the end of each day.

Adequate ventilation

Poorly ventilated areas increase the risk of transmission, so keeping windows open or air conditioning ticking over while the office is occupied will help keep the office safe.

Lateral flow tests

Offices can now get coronavirus tests for their employees to take before they attend the office each day. Find out if you can get free tests on the government website.

Steps employees can take to stay safe in the office

Your employees are key to ensuring your office remains a safe place to work. Here are some ways your employees can help ensure a safe return to the office.

Keep desks clean and tidy

No matter whether you hot desk or everyone has their own allocated seat, maintaining a clean and hygienic workplace will help to keep everyone safe. Encourage employees to do their bit and keep their workstations clean and tidy each day. 

Stick to office face covering policies

When moving around the office to go to meetings, the bathroom or the kitchen, some offices may ask employees to wear a face covering to help prevent transmitting the virus to their co-workers. While face coverings may no longer be compulsory from 19th July, some offices with higher risk staff may choose to keep the rule in place to provide an additional level of protection.

Follow new Covid-secure measures in the office

Make sure that every team member knows the new rules around office social distancing, desk arrangements and logging their attendance for track and trace. This will help keep the office safe for everyone.

Where possible avoid crowded commutes

There is always a risk that someone in your company could pick up the virus while out and about, especially during the busy rush hour commute. Encourage employees to use other methods of transport, such as cycling, walking or taking a Zipcar where possible during rush hour – or offer flexible working so that they can arrive or leave earlier or later to avoid the crowds

Self-isolate if you have symptoms

Remind your employees that if they develop symptoms, however mild, they should not come to the office. They must self-isolate at home and take a Covid-19 test to prevent the risk of transmission.