A Roadmap for Reopening the Office
Blog //30-03-2021

Logistics and safeguarding checklist for reintroducing employees to the workplace

by Alex Arundale, Chief People Officer, Advanced

Want to find out more about how you can safeguard your people in a changing world? Read the whitepaper to discover what considerations your business needs to be taking into account for its own roadmap out of lockdown, and the steps you need to take to safeguard your people whatever your plan.

Read the whitepaper now

The UK Prime Minister has announced his roadmap out of lockdown, with a plan that could allow all restrictions to be lifted by 21st June. The gradual return to business, depending on sector, means that employers can begin making their own plans to re-open workplaces and offices. Safeguarding employees upon the return to office working will require an open mind and should be based upon the identified needs of the organisation and of the employees. As the principal deliverers of safeguarding and people strategy, HR will play a key role in shaping and making these changes. By using technology that enables new ways of working, alongside the provision of physical solutions and two-way communication with employees around their experience and needs, HR can keep the workplace safe for all users.


This checklist addresses some of the many logistical safeguarding issues for consideration.

Flexibility when planning: There is no ‘one size fits all’ for organisations in considering how workplaces and offices should be reconfigured. Where most or all employees are returning into the office, multiple small separate offices may replace the open-plan environment. For those encouraging remote-working, perhaps the office may principally have a conference room function for occasional group meetings. The location may change from expensive city centres to smaller, less ‘vibey’ neighbourhoods. It’s very much down to the individual needs of the people in the organisation, so gaining their views and feedback about working practices is vital.

Technology & Tools: Consider implementing some ‘self-service HR’ to reduce the legwork. This will free up time to allow HR to fulfil its future role in supporting a changing workforce. Chatbots, portals and automated workflows can help here, as can specific solutions including desk booking apps that support safeguarding while encouraging collaboration and increased productivity.

Physical measures: Daily anti-viral cleaning of shared equipment such as telephones; a regular deep-cleaning schedule; social-distancing of desk spaces and seating in conference areas; providing hand sanitiser, disposable paper desk mats and additional handwashing facilities; introducing improved airflow or air filtration systems where appropriate, and ensuring windows can be opened safely. Signage to share health and safety information and direct movement around the office, with particular attention to doorways and areas that might become congested such as around the kettle, lifts or in washrooms, canteens and vending machines.

No more 9 to 5: By encouraging flexible hours in the workplace, businesses can help employees avoid travelling on public transport at the busiest times, helping them to socially-distance on their commute. In cases where there is an increase in employees choosing to use their own cars, extend parking areas or, if there is limited parking space, staggering the day or encouraging an alternate system of working from home one day and in the office the next might help.

Overhauling Processes: The ‘next normal’ is going to require an overhaul of key processes such as onboarding and annual appraisals, with on-going assessment and appraisals using performance monitoring technology. Introduce a post-pandemic re-induction process that looks into the employee’s needs – which may have changed significantly during the pandemic – and how the organisation can meet these while also achieving its own objectives. This may also include updated safeguarding training to ensure procedures are fit for purpose and protect all individuals – employees, customers and suppliers, along with specific training in PPE use.

Introducing flexibility into recruitment: Covid-19 has changed the size and breadth of the talent pool for organisations, opening up more Diversity and Inclusion and greater opportunity for candidates. This will require a more flexible and inclusive recruitment policy and more flexible working terms in order to attract and engage the best talent. It may also play a key role in retaining talent and minimising ‘flight risk’ as people are keen to stay and be associated with forward-thinking and progressive organisations that demonstrate that it values its employees.

 

Want to find out more about how you can safeguard your people in a changing world? Read the whitepaper to discover what considerations your business needs to be taking into account for its own roadmap out of lockdown, and the steps you need to take to safeguard your people whatever your plan.

Read the whitepaper now

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Alex Arundale

Alex Arundale

PUBLISHED BY

Chief People Officer, Advanced

Alex joined Advanced in February 2016 with a track record in senior HR positions. She has been responsible for innovative strategies to lead the company’s talent management.

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