By Amanda Walters
The Covid-19 pandemic put businesses in a position where they needed to think quickly on their feet when it came to protecting both staff and the business itself. Companies across the globe sent staff home, with their laptops and computers in hand to work remotely as countries went into lockdown to prevent the spread.
Now, as we prepare to regain normality, businesses are looking at ways to bring their workforces back.
When it comes to shared space, the question everyone will be wondering is how much of that space is to be shared? Distancing measures are showing no sign of disappearing, so banks of desks occupied by six workers may be a distant memory for the time being.
Distancing will be a consideration throughout the whole office, and not just when it comes to desks. People will need to consider the communal spaces and where people each lunch and gather too.
Don’t expect to have a 100-strong team back in the office together just yet. With distancing measures being required, it’s likely that the office won’t go back to being its normal self. Instead, you will need to prioritise who needs to be back in the office, those who don’t have an appropriate workspace at home, for example.
With that being said, you will also need to take into consideration who can’t come back into the office:
- Those who are vulnerable
- Have anxiety about using public transport
- Those who have vulnerable people at home.
If you’re planning flexi-return, maybe where different departments take it in turns to work in the office one day a week, for example, tracking where people sit will be essential. With distancing in place, you can expect employees to not be sitting and working at their normal assigned place. Clear communication will be essential in knowing who has been where and if the area has been cleaned ready for the next person to work safely.
With cleaning in mind you will need to have a plan in place. Hiring cleaners to disinfect areas every day can be costly to a business, but they will need to be done. Are you going to ask your employees to wipe down where they’ve worked or are you going to task a team of people to do it? This plan will need to be considered before welcoming anyone back.
Ideally, you will want to limit any shared equipment such as phones, pens, keyboards etc. Everyone should have their own personal tools to do their job, if you only have one phone per desk, it should be one person’s responsibility to use it. Alternatively, you should have disinfectant wipes and spray located on every desk so everything can be cleaned after it has been touched.
You can’t ask your employees to return to work if you don’t have adequate facilities in place which they will need. Toilets in particular need to be thought about. Social distancing will still need to be in place and depending on how many people are in your team, you may have a few toilets out of use for the time being.
This can be resolved by hiring portable toilets for your workplace. You can get large trailers or individual cubicles to suit your office size. Again, you will need to have a cleaning plan in place for when the toilets have been used.