Are your offices ready for a post-lockdown return to work?
Given the expected gradual easing of certain lockdown measures in the UK, organisations will need to review, and continually monitor, their return to work processes and procedures to ensure that they both protect their employees and visitors, and comply with legislation.
These processes should include provisions to manage space and to manage people, in order to limit interactions between people, and minimise risk when interactions do occur. And there are a variety of tools and procedures that businesses can implement, and ways in which spaces can be redesigned or used in different ways – some high tech, some more manual.
Can we help? Get in touch with us for help in assessing the contractual aspects of your facilities management and business operations, and identifying the steps you need to take to tailor solutions to your business and work environment. Here are a few steps to consider initially:
Assess changes required to premises and business processes
Start with a complete review of the premises – a top to bottom assessment of all working spaces, meeting rooms, kitchen and bathroom facilities, post rooms, reception areas, and other communal areas, such as entrances, stairwells, lifts, and hallways. Consider the space your employees work in itself and consider whether you can reconfigure or redesign the space to minimise interactions and maintain social distancing. Avoid sharing workstations and hot desking arrangements. And perhaps consider whether there are other working patterns which may minimise risk, such as back-to-back or side-to-side working.
Assess space occupancy, looking at how many people you need to cater for, and how many you can manage safely in this Covid-19 era. There are digital tools available to help with workplace occupancy planning. These can use the existing layout of a workspace to create a plan for seat assignment allowing for social distancing requirements. Other tools can track and analyse the movement of staff around office space to evaluate real estate needs, or the availability of desks and rooms.
Physical screens or barriers may be an option in high traffic areas, such as reception desks. You may also look to minimise interactions between staff and with visitors. For example, you could use software to verify visitor ID prior to visitors arriving on sight, to avoid reception staff having to handle ID documents and visitor passes. You can also use QR codes for touchless access to your facilities; with a QR code, employees and visitors can check in automatically by scanning the code at security gates or entrance doors.
And given the way in which Covid-19 can be transmitted, additional technology may assist in reducing the number of touchpoints throughout the premises, such as automatic lift dispatching technology, automatic doors (or self-sanitising door handles), antimicrobial surfaces, motion detecting lights, touchless hand dryers and towel dispensers, and touchless soap and sanitiser dispensers.
Managing numbers and movement of people
Put in place a policy as to what is required for an employee to be cleared to return to work. There are tools available which help to overlay your return to work policy and prerequisites (such as geography, team, role, personal health risk, workspace capacity etc) with pre-built rules based on government regulations and health organisation guidelines, in order to provide an automatic authorisation for each employee to be cleared to return to work.
Consider the ways in which you can simply limit the number of employees cleared to return coming into the premises each day. One option might be a phased approach to returning to work. Another option might be to limit the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams’ or ‘partnering’; you might put in place a cohort of staff to work together on a regular basis, perhaps alternating shifts with other cohorts. Flexible hours, staggered start and finish times and redesigned workflows (to enable work to be done in parallel or sequence rather than jointly, or even remotely) are also ways of limiting the number of people in a workspace at any point in time.
Control the direction of movement of people around the space. Arrange one-way traffic through the workplace if possible, with signage and floor markings. And put in place systems to minimise bottlenecks, such as lifts, entrances and bathroom facilities.
Some employers have been considering more inventive ways of ensuring social distancing can be adhered to within the workplace, such as wristbands or dongles which vibrate when employees come within 2 metres of each other. These tools also take note of the interaction in case either of those employees shows symptoms of Covid-19 or tests positive. If an employee is infected, people who came into close contact with the infected employee can then be notified and may be asked to quarantine themselves. These interactions which are picked up by the monitoring tools can also highlight to employers where within the workspace there are issues with the ability to maintain social distancing, which allows employers to target those areas to prevent the issues reoccurring.
Screening and reporting measures for your employees and visitors
Companies may be considering detailed and regular health monitoring, temperature testing, health questionnaires and screening, contact tracing (for staff and/or visitors) or antibody tests. Always ensure the measures you are looking to implement comply with legislation, including from an employment, data protection and health and safety perspective. Put in place required supporting processes, such as training of staff as to dealing with the results of these tests, and measures to maintain the security of data and appropriate processing of such data.
Finally, review your cleaning regime, and increase or augment office cleaning practices as required. Concentrate on high touch points throughout the office, including individuals’ work stations, through to all communal areas. And also step up the frequency of deep cleans.
With many businesses reviewing their requirements with their existing facilities management providers, and exploring new technologies to help with the transition to return to work, Kemp Little’s sourcing team is well-placed to advise and guide you through this challenging time.
Please contact us if you need any assistance in:
- Procuring any tools, technology or services related to facilities management, people management and employee screening and testing;
- Reviewing and amending your existing facilities management agreements to address your changing requirements.
Share this blog
- Adtech & martech
- Artificial intelligence
- EBA outsourcing
- Cloud computing
- Complex & sensitive investigations
- Cryptocurrencies & blockchain
- Data analytics & big data
- Data breaches
- Data rights
- Digital commerce
- Digital content risk
- Digital health
- Digital media
- Digital infrastructure & telecoms
- Emerging businesses
- Financial services
- KLick DPO
- KLick Trade Mark
- Open banking
- Software & services