Okay, so we are going to assume you have followed the Government Guidelines for Working Safely in an Office During Coronavirus and conducted your health and safety risk assessment in line with HSE guidance.
You may have had to move desks and cabling, deploy one-way systems, install protective desk screens, limit the number of employees who can work at the same time, re-structure shift patterns and introduce rules about visitors to the workplace.
In short, you have done everything you can to keep employees safe, socially distanced and manage transmission risk.
But before you safely reopen there are a few other areas which you may not have thought of yet…
Break out areas such as kitchens and chillout rooms contain kettles, fridges, water fountains and communal tableware, which are used by your team all day, every day. Not only do these facilities need to be sanitised before use, clear direction needs to be provided to all employees for best practice over the coming months or contactless alternatives provided.
Realistically, it may be you have to remove some usual facilities as it is not possible to maintain hygiene standards. In that case, staff need advance warning to prepare for work differently e.g. bring in water bottles; use a cooled lunch box or bring a thermos for hot drinks.
Clear communication to staff, their understanding and ‘buy-in’ to these new protocols are all vital to their success so why not produce a ‘return to work’ pack for each member of staff to ensure everyone is provided with the same information in the same format.
Of course, if you are able to introduce new contactless alternatives – even better. There are ranges of automatic boiling water taps, hands free water fountains and hand sanitiser stations on the market although understandably, demand is currently high for them.
Whilst you may have already commissioned a commercial deep cleaning of your office space, you will need to ensure that hygiene standards continue to be maintained once your team is back.
Pre-booking (or organising with your staff) ongoing daily cleaning and sanitisation of your office should not be overlooked, and as demand is currently high – it is advisable to ensure you have everything arranged prior to the first person arriving back.
The Government provides some useful posters and resources for you to download that include posters which alert staff to symptoms, hand washing, looking out for each other and the NHS Test and Trace service.
These are ideal for all businesses, regardless of size as they are a visual reminder to all stay to stay alert and look after each other.
These should be displayed in prominent locations throughout the office space in addition to communal areas and washrooms.
Posters should be used in addition to other new systems deployed such as one-way systems around the office. To help employees, floor stickers can be added throughout the workplace as a helpful reminder as to which route to follow.
As meetings have moved on from being in-person to virtual, there has been a huge shift in the technology required by staff.
Being back in the office, you may need to consider whether your computers and laptops all have cameras? Have you got the right kind of video conferencing technology? Does everyone have their own headset?
As it is likely that meetings will be virtual for some time to come, it goes without saying that each person should have their own access and be provided with antibacterial wipes and other cleaning solutions in order to keep them clean.
If you are providing hand sanitiser to staff, you do need to be prepared for ongoing replacement and replenishment.
Given the ‘contact free’ world we now live in, you either need to consider providing personal use bottles of sanitiser or having a foot operated or automatic hand sanitiser station.
Either way, planning ahead for your refills will be essential.
If the water supply in your office has not been used for months, then there is a danger that it could have become contaminated – and we are not talking about Coronavirus.
The Legionella bacteria that can be found in any water system including systems with or without cold water storage tanks. There are many reasons why Legionella grows in a water system such as areas of little use allowing water to stagnate, temperatures between 20-50°C and a build up of nutrients such as debris, limescale, foreign bodies.
So, what to do? If you want to take the DIY approach, then you can purchase a Legionella Testing Kit and do the job yourself. Alternatively book a professional Legionalla Risk Assessment to receive a comprehensive check.
Good luck returning to your workplace. If, like many, you are considering a change of office either to get more personal space, enable easier social distancing or to be closer to home – please get in touch with our helpful team who will search for the right office to suit your needs.