Returning to the Office after Lockdown

11 January 2021

Have you thought about your businesses return to the office?

As various parts of the globe come into and go out of COVID related lockdowns, an often underestimated impact is that of employees returning to the office. Lockdowns may not be such a problem for a short 2-3 day period, but what about those parts of the world, experiencing lockdowns of several weeks? Here in New Zealand, some workers were away from the office for more than two months! What does an employer need to be thinking about to ensure a smooth transition back into the “new” normal?

Essentially you are reopening to a new world with additional risks that were not present previously (in most cases). Some risks, such as employee mental health have been long-standing issues; however, not in this context. The transition for employees from a comfortable existence at home - back to a busy office, may take time to adjust to, how can an employer help in this situation.

Consistent Engagement

Arguably the biggest impact of lockdown was isolation. During the lockdown, the best weapon in your transition arsenal is ensuring a consistent connection with employees. Even a weekly team check-in via a Zoom or Teams call, can do a lot to ensure that workers feel connected and part of the team, bolstering their morale and ensuring that they don’t feel alone at this time.

Routine

For years, experts have told parents that establishing a routine for children is key, which should be no different for adults. It is too easy during a lockdown to fall into a comfortable rut and lowering standards. From an employers perspective, and my personal experience, I found that being on video calls quite frequently ensured that I stayed on my game. It also ensured I was keenly aware of my presentation. Our team would have a 9 am daily video call; I found this very effective as it ensured that I stuck to my pre-lockdown workday routine and ensured I was online and ready to go by 9 am.

Return to the Office

On return to the office, it’s important to immediately engage with workers, pointing out new controls in place, e.g. handwash stations, social distancing, and mask-wearing requirements.

Most importantly, it is also critical that employers actively engage and nurture workers back into the new environment, keeping an eye out for any potential pain points or issues arising from newly implemented controls. Constantly reviewing feedback and ensuring active participation and engagement will go along way to the workforce embracing the new normal and ensuring that newly adopted controls are effective and become part of work, not an additional chore.

Risk Assessment made simple.

During the New Zealand lockdown, and now with the UK lockdowns, SAFE365 made our platform free for six months to assist business as much as possible. Two standout features which were quite effective over lockdown were the Checklist feature and the Survey feature.

The survey feature allows a Manager to push out a “pulse” type survey, receiving anonymous information back from employees, all using the simple SAFE365 interface on users smartphones. These surveys are a great tool to receive some good feedback on health and safety measures; it also lends a voice to workers and ensures that their views are recorded.

 

The Checklist feature allows employers to build customised checklists. Perhaps you want a daily check-in from workers, or you could build an ergonomic assessment, ensuring that workers working from home have an appropriate place to conduct work.

The checklist feature is a great tool;

  • Ensuring that workers are engaged;
  • Ensuring worker feedback is recorded;
  • Which is simple and intuitive to use, allowing users to upload voice, text and photos/videos to the responses.

These three points are key to ensure engagement with your workforce and ensuring a positive connection

Can we help?

If you are in the UK, you can download our SAFE365 app FREE! For six months, head over to https://www.safe365global.com/uk/pricing/ and try it out!

If you are no tin the UK, you can still head over to https://www.safe365global.com/ and try the 21-day free trial!

Can we help?

Safe365 works with businesses to achieve occupational health and safety success. Read more about our work here.

 

 

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