Where to begin
Preparing to Reactivate
Best practice and guidance
Protocols and guidance that will characterise safe working in preparation for a return to the workplace have now been published by the UK Government. The guidance allows for ‘flexibility within a framework’ in order to allow business to reactivate based on the type of space they work from, as opposed to the trade or industry they operate in.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, The Fitzrovia Partnership has been proactively working alongside our members, local/UK government, trade and industry bodies, whilst conducting research into business in Asia to collate information on best practice and guidance that will enable successful reactivation of workplaces as we approach the recovery and evolution phase of business.
Learnings from those who have reopened their workplaces has shown that building occupiers should be prepared to determine their own thresholds and policies aligned with COVID-19 secure guidance for bringing employees, customers and visitors back to the officers, stores and workplaces when it is safe to do so.
This will include factors like clear understanding of Test and Trace, reliable and sustained accessibility to key cleaning supplies, job specific personal protective equipment, the ability to enable social/physical distancing, frequent cleaning and regulatory requirements coupled with the implementation of best practices.
- Daily/Weekly/Monthly Reviews – Focus on Recovery and Evolution to ‘New Normal’
- Webinars/Training – Recovery and Return for workplace occupants
- Local instructions and guidance for all staff on precautions to take to avoid contacting or passing on the virus
- Strategy for employee engagement and communications
- HR support for all employees Workers in relation to Health & Well Being /Impact of covid-19, apprehension of returning to work
- Continue to monitor absence levels daily and report to management functions
- Meetings – client meetings are hosted virutally where possible until social distancing relaxed – business critical meetings only
- PPE considerations for all staff
- Customer Service Return to Work Training for public/visitor facing and line management staff. How to welcome staff back to their workplace, first impressions and making people feel comfortable returning to work post covid-19
- Social Distancing Training – in conjunction with customer, reception points, touch points
- COVID Bulletins detailing latest UK Government, NHS and travel safety guidance and advice.
Evolving to a new normal – transformation
Reactivating workplaces with a long term view should be approached as a “reset” of services to support the workplace environment with continuous, relevant and timely communications to employees and occupants to provide education and awareness of safety, health, and wellness initiatives and innovations.
Conduct a comprehensive, strategic review of all operational activities and services that occur in the workplace.
Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace
It is now mandatory for organisations in certain sectors to collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors on their premises to support NHS Test and Trace.
The easing of social and economic lockdown measures following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your organisation, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. As part of this, organisations should also ensure that official NHS QR code posters are available for visitors to use at their venues. Doing this can help contain clusters or outbreaks.
The purpose of maintaining records and displaying an official NHS QR poster
By maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors, and displaying an official NHS QR poster, you can help NHS Test and Trace to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to the virus.
If you have registered for an official NHS QR code and are displaying the official NHS QR poster, the NHS COVID-19 app has a feature which allows users to ‘check-in’ to your venue by scanning the code. This is a secure way for individuals to ‘check-in’ as the details stay on the person’s phone. In England, people who ‘check-in’ do not have to provide their contact details as part of the staff, customer and visitor logs.
Containing outbreaks early is crucial to reduce the spread of COVID-19, protect the NHS and social care sector, and save lives. This will help to avoid the reintroduction of lockdown measures and support the country to return to, and maintain, a more normal way of life.
You can play a significant role in helping your staff, customers and visitors understand the importance of NHS Test and Trace and play their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Please do this by explaining why you are asking for contact information or why you are displaying the official NHS QR poster, and encouraging them to provide details or ‘check-in’.
In addition to maintaining and sharing records where requested and displaying an official NHS QR poster, you must also continue to follow other government guidance to minimise the transmission of COVID-19. This includes maintaining a safe working environment and following social distancing guidelines.
Sectors that this guidance applies to
There is a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19 in premises where customers and visitors spend a longer time in one place and potentially come into close contact with other people outside of their household. To manage this risk, establishments in the following sectors, whether indoor or outdoor venues or mobile settings, should collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors:
- hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
- tourism and leisure, including hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks
- close contact services, including hairdressers, barbershops and tailors
- facilities provided by local authorities, including town halls and civic centres for events, community centres, libraries and children’s centres
- places of worship, including use for events and other community activities
This guidance applies to any establishment that provides an on-site service and to any events that take place on its premises. It does not apply where services are taken off site immediately, for example, a food or drink outlet which only provides takeaways. If a business offers a mixture of a sit-in and takeaway service, contact information only needs to be collected for customers who are dining in.
Full details on NHS Test and Trace requirements can be found here
Readiness, Response and Resilience
When the workplace has been reoccupied and work resumes, business should remain vigilant and agile with the ability to respond to events with little to no notice. Whilst the UK Government is taking steps to reduce the risk further wave’s of the pandemic, business must prepare to mitigate the risk to operations and impact on business of a future national lockdown scenario, or the local impact if a member of staff exposed to covid-19 and the steps that the business will need to take to protect the health and wellbeing of the workplace and its employees. Business should be prepared to return to “response” mode at any time.
Considerations for businesses planning and responding to local lockdowns
Build the possibility of further lockdowns into your business continuity plans
Lockdowns should be added to the list of business continuity risks businesses face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s important for firms to consider how local lockdowns may impact them – and to make any preparations necessary to mitigate those impacts.
To create an effective plan, there are questions businesses should consider before a local lockdown comes into effect:
- Does your business operate in or close by to any areas with higher infection rates? It’s important to keep an eye on local outbreaks so you can see any potential local lockdowns coming down the road
- Is your business likely to remain open or closed in the event of a local lockdown? It’s important to note that exact restrictions may differ between locations, but it’s important to understand what the most likely scenario is for your business. For example, because the Leicester lockdown took place prior to 4 July, the only businesses to close again were non-essential retail, and the only businesses prevented from reopening were pubs, restaurants and cafes
- Are you aware of where your employees are based? Are the majority nearby, or in neighbouring localities that may have different rules / restrictions in the event of a local lockdown?
- Are you aware of your employees’ childcare or other caring responsibilities? A local lockdown situation could impact the opening of nurseries, schools and other childcare facilities
- Would you know where to go or who to speak to at your local authority in the event of a local lockdown? Find out which team is coordinating your local authority’s coronavirus response and build up relationships in advance with local councillors as well as your Local Enterprise Partnership.
Communicating with all employees and stakeholders will be a critical factor. The Fitzrovia Partnership recognised at an early stage that this must be a continuous, deliberate, carefully constructed effort that provides timely, relevant and important information to all key stakeholders across both physical and virtual work environments of our members.
Continuous employee and stakeholder feedback will be pivotal; continual review, adopting best practice and new ideas to demonstrate an active and ongoing commitment to enabling safe and healthy workplaces.
Ensure you understand any restrictions or measures implemented
One of the most important takeaways from recent local lockdowns has been to ensure everyone understands and is aligned on what a local lockdown really means. What restrictions are in place, who can travel from where, what businesses can remain open. If you are in any doubt about what your local restrictions are, get in touch with the relevant team at your local authority or a member of the team at The Fitzrovia Partnership.
Send out clear, reassuring communications to staff
Businesses impacted by local lockdown measures have reported staff feeling anxious about being at work – particularly in cases where employees are travelling into the lockdown area, or where the business is based outside it but has employees commuting in from the lockdown area. Peoples’ emotional responses to local lockdowns should not be underestimated: its important to build confidence for those still working that it is safe to do so, as long as social distancing and health and safety measures are followed.
To build confidence, clear, consistent communication from employers is key, educating staff on what the rules are, how they should be followed, and any additional safety measures put in place for employees’ safety. If people receive conflicting messages or are unclear what the restrictions are – this is what can lead to anxiety about coming into work. Listen to employees’ concerns – directly if you can, or through employee groups – and try to respond to any questions or concerns about how you can remain open safely through a local lockdown.
Reactivating workplaces will inevitably have financial implications and additional expense. Operationally, additional expenses for activities like enhanced cleaning, hand sanitiser, Personal Protective Equipment, workplace re-modelling, and increased communications will be needed for the reactivation and evolution of workplaces during and post covid-19.
Planning ahead – with confidence – will be key to ensuring business continuity as the covid-19 pandemic evolves.
The Fitzrovia Partnership will continue to evolve our advice to business with frequent, fluid updates, in line with Government and Public Health England advice and local business experts.
We encourage contribution from all Fitzrovia stakeholders – sharing plans to date, identified inhibitors, thoughts, ideas, lessons learned and sharing of best practice
By working together and building relationships, utilising The Fitzrovia Partnership as a conduit and facilitator for a safe, healthy return to the workplace, you can help us support other businesses and shape the evolution of ‘Our Fitzrovia’ post covid-19.
Our Reactivate, Recover, Revive guidance is designed to offer a comprehensive guide to recovery and transformation.