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23rd September 2020

Going Back to the Office?

What’s Happening..

Many businesses including some of the UK’s largest employers have rushed to pause plans for staff to return to their UK offices following fresh government guidance on coronavirus.

What’s the plan?

It appears that large city-based firms are giving a thumbs down to the idea of fully reopening, not only due to the practicalities of accommodating staff whilst maintaining social distancing, but also because they don’t wish to force staff to risk their health travelling on public transport.

A few companies have reported that they would avoid office reopening until at least the New Year, and the majority of businesses we have spoken to advised that the office is open albeit with a skeleton crew for those unable to work from home.

The latest u-turn in advice from the government comes at a time when recent survey results from Nuffield Health have revealed 80% of Brits feel that working from home has negatively impacted their mental health. Over a third (36%) of those surveyed said that not being in the same space as colleagues has left them feeling unable to take a break or step away from their workstations, with many feeling they must always be ready to respond quickly from their computers.

There are concerns that this may be contributing to higher levels of anxiety, stress and loneliness that many have reported feeling over the past few months, these important issues should therefore not be overlooked in any unilateral decisions to keep offices closed.

Office return?

The choice is yours to make based on your assessment of risk, operational needs and ability to follow the ever changing guidelines.

If you do return to the office (whether fully or partially) there are five steps that you will need to follow:

1. Carry out a coronavirus risk assessment, record the findings and share it with your staff;

2. Implement cleaning, hand washing, and hygiene procedures;

3. Take all reasonable steps to help employees work safely (including those working at home);

4. Take all reasonable steps to maintain a two-metre distance, or where this is not possible, 1M with mitigation measures (i.e. screen/barriers etc) as minimum.

5. Keep the risk assessment under regular review to take account of the ever changing guidance.

When you’ve completed your risk assessment and got your plan in place, communicate it to staff. It’s also recommended to display a COVID­ Secure Notice in your premises. Click here.

For any clients requiring assistance with interpreting the sector specific guidance to their workplaces, or for expert advice call our advice line today on 0845 4591724.

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