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The return to work: five step guide

Reopening any business can seem a laborious task. In these unprecedented times however, this task can seem overwhelming. ABL Group is advising firms to put in place a ‘return to work’ plan to navigate the process

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The return to work: five step guide

The return to work: five step guide

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The return to work: five step guide

1 Preparation and planning are key

“Like any business objective, we know that the key to successful implementation is in the planning,” David Sinnamon, risk manager, says. “To begin, try to determine when your business will likely be re-opening. This will give you a clear idea on how to formulate and conduct a Covid-19 risk assessment and action plan. Ensure you review the most up to date Government guidelines to fully understand when a safe opening should be planned for or liaise with enforcement authorities, legal professionals and insurers as to the most up-to-date information”.

2 Create an internal response team

“At this point, the safe and successful management of staff against exposure to Covid-19 within the workplace requires a team effort. To be successful, you will need to create an internal business response team. From team leaders, sanitation supervisors to communication advocates; the expressed aim of this team should be to ensure the business continues to implement health strategies to reduce the potential spread.”

3 Reshape and adjust workspaces

“Consider all spaces where your staff pass through, congregate or occupy throughout the normal working day. If workspaces have been closed for the past number of weeks, consider deep-cleaning to minimise potential Covid-19 spread.

“Factor in the workspace. You may need to separate workstations or adjust floor plans to keep employees distanced. In doing so, plan for occupancy. This may involve staggering arrivals and departures or sequencing tasks so that risks are reduced

“In areas used by staff throughout the day- be that food preparation areas, washrooms, or meeting rooms – assess the risk of Covid-19 exposure and take appropriate action; ensuring daily cleaning schedules are followed and re-enforced. This also applies to main touch points through the workplace, for example- door handles, stair rails and lift buttons.” spread”.

4 Keep employees informed

“Ensure all staff are fully aware of the actions the business will be taking to safeguard safety; compile information detailing what the business is doing and what staff are expected to do,” David says. “This should re-enforce the need to maintain a healthy and Covid-19 free workplace; be that through social distancing within the office, handwashing, surface disinfecting and cleaning”.

“Equally important, is the requirement to reassure staff returning to the workplace. Whether they have continued to work remotely or if they have been furloughed; all staff should be ‘re-inducted’ into the business with a key focus on health and well-being. This will also give you the opportunity to inform staff of new business protocols and brief them in respect of new rules and PPE requirements”.

5 Plan, review, adapt, repeat

As is the case with any business planning, ‘return to work’ plans should be monitored, assessed and updated. “Rushing a return to the workplace may increase the risk of employees being exposed to Covid-19,” he says. “Therefore, all policies and procedures should be subject to regular monitoring and review. Where necessary, work with the corresponding departments such as HR, health and safety or external advisers, as well as government websites. It’s important to remain flexible at this unprecedented time to ensure the successful re-opening of your business and a healthy, reassured work force”.

Ulster Business