Returning to the Office after Covid 19
Insights by Clare Hutton
Returning to the Office Post COVID-19.
As a business we all know that we are responsible for providing a safe work place for our workers, which includes during a pandemic. COVID-19 has meant that many workers have been working from home. However, as workers start returning, there are a number of considerations that businesses need to take to assist in providing and maintaining a safe return to work plan and thereby a safe work environment.
Riskcom has been assisting businesses during the initial stages of the pandemic, during the pandemic and we are helping businesses put plans in place to return to work.
The nature, size and location of your workplace and workforce will affect the complexity and effort that is required in preparing to return to the office. Some of the considerations that may need to be reviewed based on these include four key areas: Communication, Office Layout, Cleaning and Policy, and Procedures. Detailed below against each of these areas are dot point suggestions to assist you.
1. What is your building management doing to limit exposure to the corona virus within the building environment? Are building managers controlling access to the building by workers, visitors and delivery personnel; is access to and use of shared spaces controlled; have cleaning frequencies increased; are common area touch points cleaned; are sanitizers and suitable signage placed in common areas?
2. Is building management communicating their processes if there is a known case of COVID-19 infection within the building and its tenancies?
3. What information do you need to share with workers to let them know you are implementing procedures to protect them when they come back to the office. Who is responsible for communicating with workers?
4. Posters and signage on handwashing, limits of numbers in rooms, requirements to clean or sanitize, and general State Government COVID-19 information should be displayed to remind workers of new requirements and COVID-19 guidelines.
- Office layout
1. Review your office layout to ensure desks, meeting rooms, kitchens and entries enable compliance with State Government COVID-19 distancing guidelines.
2. Are there congestion areas that should be reviewed, such as around photocopier, coffee & tea facilities, toilets to provide suitable distancing?
3. Are toilets shared with other tenancies and should they have restricted numbers?
1. Do cleaning frequencies need to be increased?
2. Are cleaning and disinfecting regimes meeting State Government COVID-19 guidelines?
3. Are high touch points being disinfected during the day?
4. Do workers have access to disinfectant sprays or surface wipes to maintain desks and other work surfaces?
5. Do worker have access to hand sanitizers and tissues?
- Policy & Procedures
1. Workers are not to attend the office if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection. How is this being communicated and managed? How will this be managed if someone attends the workplace and is not well?
2. How flexible is the workplace in allowing workers to work from home?
3. Can you stagger work start times to allow workers to use public transport and lifts in high rise office blocks during off-peak times?
4. Can you split your workforce into two teams and roster weeks in the office and working from home, for business continuity planning and social distancing benefits?
5. How do you know if any of your staff are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection or have family members that are vulnerable to infection?
6. If you have a worker who is a suspected case of COVID-19 infection or is waiting for test results, what should you do?
7. If you have a worker or site visitor who tests positive to COVID-19 infection what do you need to do and who is going to manage this?
With the challenges being faced every day and the unknown future it is important to plan ahead so that you have a clear picture of what you need to do to provide a safe COVID-19 workplace. Contact Riskcom if you would like assistance in developing or reviewing your return to work plans.