- About us
- Our divisions
- Contact us
With lockdown restrictions slowly starting to ease, we’re keen to help all of our collaborators get back in business safely. But with bottlenecks, compliance regulations and complications seeming to wait around every corner, re-entering the workplace can be overwhelming. So to make things simpler, we sat down with our Operations and Compliance Director Lorraine. Referring directly to the official government guidelines, Lorraine broke down the best practices of workplace compliance for us. She also talked us through her general perspectives as a compliance professional, on the future of work in the age of social distancing.
How can companies stay compliant and operate safely during covid-19?
There is a requirement on all companies to comply with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID – 19 in the workplace. Thankfully, the government has produced a range of guidance documents which covers schools, offices, construction, factory, production in addition to other settings.
The documents are really user friendly and take you through a risk assessment process step by step, offering sensible suggestions to help businesses manage ‘bottlenecks’ in the workplace such as arrival, moving around the building and using common areas such as lunch and locker rooms.
It is important that employers take all reasonable steps to help staff work from home where appropriate and in the workplace maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible. Where people cannot be 2m apart, i.e. production settings, it is important to take practical measures to manage transmission risks.
Employers should communicate with their teams and involve them or a representative in some of the planning around processes to keep employees safe at work. It is also important to make sure that steps taken do not have a negative impact on certain groups compared to others, so have clear criteria/indicators for selecting which members of your team you ask to return first if you are staggering return to work for furloughed team members.
What steps are we taking to ensure we have a safe working environment here at Prime HQ?
We have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and will share the results with our team for their ideas before they start to return to work. We are fortunate to have a large open plan office which is well ventilated, we have enough room to safely observe 2m social distancing at all times. Some of the measures we are considering are;
With the most recent government update what changes do you expect to see within the workplace?
Some businesses will find it more difficult than others to conform to the guidance dependent on work activity relevant to the sector they work in. On a general level I think more people will work from home full or part time, lots of businesses have been forced to embrace technology to enable meetings with colleagues and external stakeholders; it is clear that online meetings are productive and successful. The technology is clearly up to the job and has demonstrated huge benefits in terms of time savings, effectiveness and limiting travel to reduce COVID-19 transmission risks.
In other sectors shifts may need be introduced to stagger start times and reduce the number of employees on site at any time, some processes and activities will need to be reviewed and a rethink on how to complete work which doesn’t allow 2m social distancing – not all activities can be completed at 2m distance so other mitigating factors to minimise contact with colleagues will need to be introduced i.e. staff working in designated teams. The hospitality and airline sectors are particularly challenging because of the close proximity of the public to each other. These sectors’ current business models rely on maximising capacity and so are not feasible with a reduction in customer numbers to meet social distancing requirements. Production areas and warehouses will also need to be innovative with solutions too, automation has been a trend for a while now but often comes with a hefty price tag which makes it off-limits for lots of businesses.
What positive steps do you see local businesses will start to take over the coming weeks?
I am confident that local businesses will take time to fully review and implement the working safely during COVID-19 guidance to ensure their employees’ safety before bringing people back to work. We have continued to support lots of our clients to trade through the last 8 weeks albeit with a skeleton staff. The furlough scheme has given employers some breathing space to review their operations and make plans to focus their activity on those markets which are most in demand at the moment.
Like us, lots of clients we are speaking to are planning a clear strategy to fully re-open over the coming weeks and months. This includes identifying indicators and trends in their sector to encourage them to un-furlough staff and get them back to work. It’s a classic case of chicken and egg with some of our clients being bold and re-opening for business, other clients are more reserved in their assessment or reliant on other businesses to start trading first. Ultimately it will be a domino effect, we need more willing volunteers to start the chain of events.
If you’re a local business leader or jobseeker who would like some advice, feel free to get in touch and a member of our team will be ready to help. Just call 01376 502999.