The health and safety requirements for a return to the office

Simon Durbin, Unify
X The Business Desk

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Simon Durbin, Soft Services Director, Unify

During a recent webinar, we asked business owners what concerned them most about welcoming teams back to the workplace.

What we found was that they are so overwhelmingly unsure of how to keep their teams safe from the threat of Coronavirus, that many are putting off the reopening of their buildings entirely.

Because the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has made Covid-secure conditions a legal requirement in offices across the country, businesses owners are simply more nervous about making themselves liable for any Covid-related damages.

As a result, many are opting to continue with remote working long term, rather than welcome their teams back to the office.

The Coronavirus has caused millions most business leaders and team managers to become acutely aware of the surroundings they work in, and cleaning standards, safety measures and workplace illness protocols are now major talking points amongst the UK’s workforce.

Data shows that over a fifth (22 per cent) of employees would rather look for a new job rather than return to a site or office which didn’t implement the necessary measures to keep them safe after the lockdown, so there is now more onus than ever on employers, landlords and building operators to take the necessary steps to create healthy and safe workplaces.

To support them in this, at Unify we’ve launched our Return to Work campaign, designed to offer expert consultancy to business owners who are unsure of the steps they must take to get back up and running safely after the UK lockdown.

Initially, our expert team of cleaning specialists will establish exactly how a business and its team occupies a space, so that it can provide advice that’s personalised to a company’s specific operations and outline the initial steps needed to complete a risk assessment.

We’ll identify any activity or situations which might cause transmission of the Coronavirus; who within a space could be at risk of catching Coronavirus at any given time and how likely it is that someone could be exposed to the virus in that space.

Then, we’ll outline the best steps to take to protect people using that workplace, with specific cleaning and facilities maintenance regimes.

What’s key for businesses to remember is that this isn’t as clear cut as undertaking a single risk assessment and thinking the job is done.

The HSE is conducting unannounced spot checks on businesses to ensure they are keeping their workplaces safe. Plus, businesses will need to update their risk assessments regularly to reflect any further changes in legislation or guidance that might impact how their carry out they work activity – for example, if there are any more changes to local or national restrictions.

Not every business will need to make extensive changes, while for others, additional steps to what they have in place now will be essential.

So far, we’ve supported over 30 of our clients back into their offices seamlessly, offering remote and site based advice alongside reinstating sufficient cleaning services to ensure they can quickly reopen their premises and reassure any concerned employees.

Covid-19 created a learning curve for us all and that’s not going to stop any time soon – we are living in a totally new world. But Unify has reacted at every stage to the challenges the pandemic has presented on behalf of our customers, and we want to share our expert knowledge of cleaning and facilities management, to help businesses get back to work safely. It’s absolutely possible, with the right support.