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Going back to work? Here’s how to handle social distancing

As lockdown measures start to be eased, the UK government has released a statement on how the country will begin to return to work once more. If you’re looking to get your employees back to work, we’ve got a round up of the government guidelines and advice that can help you start operating safely, with the health of your staff in mind. 

Take some training on COVID-19

It might seem like an obvious place to start, but in the past few months there has been a huge amount of misinformation around COVID-19. When you’re thinking about your employees returning to work, it’s important to ensure that they have accurate, up-to-date information on the virus, the way that it is transmitted and how best to keep themselves safe. 

Virtual College is offering a free prevent COVID-19 course, which helps all of your staff get to grips with the basic knowledge around this pandemic. It takes around 15 minutes and has a quiz at the end so employees can test their knowledge.

Check the government guidance

As things develop, the government guidance is changing. However, at time of writing, there are currently five key points for businesses to focus on implementing. The full guidance can be found here.

Consider working remotely

Remote working has been incredibly useful for businesses in the UK in the past few months. Although it might be impossible for your business to operate remotely, if you are thinking about resuming operations it may be useful to consider whether some employees can work from home. The less people that are working at an onsite location, the better.

If you believe that some of your employees can work from home, then it’s definitely worth considering remote working. If you need more information on how to implement remote working for your business, we’ve got a great article all about it

Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

Businesses looking to resume operations will need to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. There is a great deal of information on hse.gov.uk, including risk assessment templates and examples, and the steps needed to manage risk. The UK government states that businesses with over 50 employees should complete a risk assessment in consultation with their workers or trade unions.

Maintain 2 metres social distancing

The UK Government states that, where possible, employers should assess the layout of work spaces and break rooms in order for employees to maintain 2 metres social distancing. Taking a look at your work environment, and reflecting on the way that it can be moved through safely is absolutely vital when considering resuming operations. 

The UK Government suggests staggering start times, opening more entrances and exits, changing seating and desk layouts, and also creating one way walk-throughs in order to keep employees safe.

Manage transmission risk

For some businesses, maintaining 2 metres social distancing simply isn’t possible. In cases such as these, the UK Government suggests putting barriers in shared spaces in order to reduce the transmission risk between employees. Employers should also look at the directions in which seats and desks are facing, so that where possible employees can face away from each other.

In addition, companies should consider altering shift patterns between teams, so that staff are less likely to come into contact with one another.

Reinforcing cleaning processes

One of the most important aspects of resuming operations onsite is ensuring that the workspace is cleaned frequently, with high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards given particularly close attention. Hot-desking, or sharing of laptops and equipment should be discouraged where possible.

Employers have also been asked to provide hand washing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points. 

Ready to return to work?

Employers must follow the guidance before allowing employees to return to work. Equally, employees should be made aware of the measures that have been put in place, which will help to keep them safe and reduce transmission.

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