How To Implement Phased Return to Work


How To Implement Phased Return to Work

In recent months, our working lives have transformed, quite possibly forever. For many of us, working from home has become commonplace, as we learn to adapt and adjust to a world facing a global pandemic.

But, as we’ve also seen, the situation is ever-changing, and thankfully improving for most countries. With this we expect to see the slow phased return to work for many professions. Already in Europe and some other parts of the world, lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease. Currently workers in construction and other trades are transitioning back to work.

If you work in HR, health and safety, or if you’re a small business owner, you may be concerned about how to implement a safe return to work and social distancing measures for your team members and employees. It’s understandable, given the challenges that every organisation is facing. 

Based on latest guidelines, we’ve put together this practical guide to help create a safe working environment through effective social distancing solutions, combined with clear communication and information for employees. 

Risk Assessment

Many countries are advising to carry out a covid-19 risk assessment in consultation with workers, or even trade unions if applicable. This process should establish which guidelines to put in place to ensure a safe environment before employees return to work. This may include new rules around hot desking, hosting meetings, and minimising face-to-face contact.

Take the time to assess your workplace, looking out for challenges around footfall, social distancing, and implementing contactless interaction wherever possible.

Maintaining Two Metres Social Distancing

By now, we all know the importance of keeping two metres apart. This will remain important even when we return to work. As a responsible employer, there’s a few key measures that you can take to uphold this.

When colleagues do return to work, you can stagger start times, create one-way walkways, and change your office configuration to support social distancing using partition screens, modular desk divider screen systems or mobile screen dividers. In some cases, where closer communication and collaboration is needed, clear divider screens may also provide an ideal solution. 

However, it’s easy to forget that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, so office signage can play an important role in clearly communicating to employees and keeping them alert.

For instance, BrewDog has successfully installed a number of workplace safety signs around their factory, to remind colleagues to keep apart while working together. Ideal for ever-changing messages, the Nobo poster frames and A-board frames are a smart solution for updating your company message, and sharing social-distancing signs or health and safety information. They’re easy to wipe clean and can be used again and again for your temporary signage.

Communicating To Colleagues

Another important consideration is communicating new and updated policies to colleagues for when they return to work. This may include rules on how to host meetings with limited numbers, or measures for using public transport safely. You might want to consider using a notice board for clearly displaying signs and information in a communal break out area within the workplace for all to see.

Even for colleagues that remain home working, it’s important to lay out some guidelines. This might include processes for client meetings, maintaining wellbeing in isolation, and other safe practices. 

During this period of change it’s important to optimise all resources available to communicate new ways of working; from the company intranet to kitchen notice boards, and strategically placed safety signage in the office.

Communicating With Third Parties And Visitors

It’s possible that your workplace may have visitors, clients, or even couriers dropping off packages. To maintain best practice, a snap frame poster display or A-board frame at the front of your office is a great way to communicate with those entering the building. 

Use this tool to clearly communicate how to navigate the office space safely, laying out any clear instructions for social distancing, hand sanitising and so forth. This may also include recommendations for dropping off goods to avoid face to face contact.  As the situation evolves, you will be able to update your messaging quickly and effectively, for the welfare of everyone.