office



Top tips for returning to the office post-lockdown


23 August 2021

 

Before you ask employees to return to work, make sure appropriate risk assessments are in place to safeguard your employees’ health and safety and control risks in the workplace.

Occupational health and safety professionals can assist you with risk assessments, including advice on hygiene, disinfection, ergonomics, ventilation systems and how social distancing can be applied in the workplace. In addition, involving employees and consulting with them will also help ensure your risk assessment is realistic and incorporates all the known risks.

Routine screenings and temperature checks not only ensure your workplace is safe, but also show your employees that adequate measures are being taken to protect them, and that their safety is your top priority.

Although restrictions are easing, it’s still crucial that hygiene remains a priority. Consider taking the following steps to ensure additional hygiene practices become commonplace in your workplace.
 

  • Improve sanitation – Introduce hand-sanitising stations around the office.
  • Start deep cleaning – Frequently clean and disinfect shared areas, high traffic zones and surfaces that are touched regularly. Bathrooms, desks and chairs, and any other busy areas will need enhanced cleaning throughout the day.
  • Ensure individuals are cleaning their desks – Make sure employees are being diligent by keeping their workstations clean.
  • Personal protective equipment – Provide PPE kits for employees which include face coverings, hand-sanitiser and gloves. 

Where possible, workspaces should be reconfigured to facilitate social distancing measures between employees and to ensure they are well ventilated. Consider removing some furniture, spread out desks and seating, and install partition screens where employees have to sit face to face.

Other steps you can take to help your employees keep their distance at work include:

  • Putting up signs to remind them of social distancing guidance
  • Using floor tape or paint to mark areas
  • Introducing a rota so less employees are working from the office at once
  • Shortening meetings
  • Reducing lift capacity
  • Creating a one-way system for stairwells and entrance and exit points
  • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams or partnering
  • Communicating how to use meeting rooms, cafeterias, lifts and other communal areas

You will most likely need to be flexible as you put your back-to-work measures in place given that COVID-19 is expected to remain a risk for the foreseeable future. It’s important to give your employees choice during this time. Don’t put pressure on them to return to the office. While some employees may be excited about returning to the office, others may need more time to get used to the new world of work.

Effectively supporting your employees during the transition back to the workplace will help to minimise these challenges. Consider a phased, staggered or partial start back at work to allow staff time to adjust, or gradually expose employees to the working environment by operating a ‘hybrid model’ of workplace and home working. 

Communicating to your employees the measures you have put in place is crucial.  Prepare them for the new work arrangement with regular communications and recognise that many people are still experiencing uncertainty and will need time to adjust.

It’s also worthwhile asking your employees what else they might need to make them feel safe at work. You need to give them the chance to raise any concerns they have. Going the extra mile will make your employees feel more confident about returning to the workplace in our new normal.

About the author

Ida Luka-Lognoné

CEO Health, Allianz Partners

Ida Luka-Lognoné, Chief Executive Officer of International Health and member of the Allianz Partners Board of Management.

Allianz Partners is part of the Allianz Group, which serves more than 92 million customers in over 77 countries.

Having joined Swiss group Elvia Travel Insurance in 1992, Ida developed Central and Eastern Europe markets. Since 2000 she became Director of the European Region in Mondial Assistance before joining its Executive Committee in 2002. In 2007 Ida assumed the role of CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Allianz Global Assistance and became a board member in charge of Asia Pacific development, focused on China, India and Australia.

As from 2014 she joined Allianz Partners Board, first in charge of Strategy, Innovation and Market Management and since 2015 as CEO of Allianz Care specialized brand of Allianz Partners.

A Polish and French citizen, Ida holds a masters degree from Krakow University and from Paris Inalco, and is a graduate of INSEAD. She is member of the Allianz Group Inclusion and Diversity Council and sponsors Force Femmes, a French charity which helps unemployed women return to professional activities. In recognition of her professional achievements and contribution to the French economy, Ida Luka-Lognoné was awarded the French Legion d'Honneur.