Risks and controls to consider when reopening your office

Posted 2 months ago by BowlPhish

Among the several mixed messages given to the UK public from the government recently, one of the most encouraging for businesses is to see a push to get employees back into the office safely.

The recent spike in cases, and local lockdowns being extended and implemented across the country has led many to believe that this message has come far too soon, and with the majority of the country still successfully working from home– they might have a point.

For businesses, there’s a lot to think about if you’re looking to get employees back in the office. The HSE recommend starting with a detailed risk assessment to offer structure ensure you’re considering every possibility to keep staff as safe and comfortable as possible.

To make your return to work procedure easier, we’ve put together a list of tips to alleviating the risks through careful planning and assessment:

Outlining the risks

There’s a number of risks to your staff and your business, the main one being spreading Covid-19 in your workplace. If the spread is not controlled, your underlying business reputation and the disruption of the services you provide are also at risk.

What can you do?

Ensure all staff or visitors are signed in, you have their contact details for track and trace reasons and that they have been checked for symptoms before entering your premises or they inform you immediately if they develop any.

If anyone shows signs of Covid-19, you can contact the Public Health Authority for advice on any actions or precautions you need to take.

Social Distancing

Before lockdown, official guidance for office space stated that “the total volume of the room, when empty, divided by the number of people normally working in it should be approximately 55 sq ft.” Although this guidance isn’t likely to change, reducing the number of people in an office to comply with the 2-meter rule is recommended.

Changing office layouts to create a 1-way system will also help staff comply with the regulations, as well as staggering shift patterns and breaks to ensure entrances, exits and breakout spaces do not become over crowded are all effective ways of enforcing social distancing.

Cleaning & Hygiene

Keeping an office space clean is already common practice, however frequent ‘deep cleans’ of high touch objects and high traffic areas such as door handles, reception areas and corridors will soon be a requirement in workspaces in order to minimise the risk of contamination.

Staff should also be responsible for ensuring they are using hand sanitiser throughout the day and are wiping down their desks and other workspaces after use.

More advice can be found here.

Our experience

At the Glass Wipe Board Company, we carried out a comprehensive risk assessment before inviting employees back into the office, which resulted in completely changing the layout of our office to allow for a 2 meter distance between staff at all times and to provide more than 2 points of entry to every desk.

We have also implemented a range of transparent Glass Protective screens which provide a physical barrier between employees when at their desks without making them feel boxed in or trapped.

Are you thinking about reopening your office? It’s important to remember that every workspace is unique, and employers will have a duty of care to make the working environment safe for employees before anyone steps foot back in the office.