Business Info - issue 146 magazine 26 BUSINESS BRIEFING The lifting of restrictions has inevitably had a huge impact on the behaviour and attitude of the nation. As the Government’s post-lockdown roadmap remains on track, many are concerned about adjusting to life once again, and whether it will be completely safe to do so. That is why it is now essential for organisations across the UK to assess the best health and safety practices, as office and business doors begin to reopen. To ensure employees are supported throughout yet another colossal transition, with their physical and mental health safeguarded, there are some key considerations for employers to consider. A swift and safe return to the office Adapting once more There is no doubt that working from home has been a critical factor in keeping businesses alive. Although technology has kept employees connected and able to complete most tasks, many have had to completely step out of their comfort zone. Love it or hate it, remote working has completely transformed expectations around work. Despite uncertainties around this unfamiliar agile way of working, many companies have reported that productivity remained stable, or in some cases, increased during the pandemic. In fact, research byWharton 1 has found that 83 percent of employees were either more productive or equally as productive when working from home. With it being more than a year since work from home measures were implemented, organisations have needed to harness a more flexible approach to work which meets employees changing expectations. Recent research conducted by office furniture firm, MEAVO 2 , suggests many employees would prefer to replace the traditional 9 to 5 office day with flexible working hours and the option to work from home. Research from HR software company, Personio 3 , has found over one third of employees would leave their current employer for more flexibility and the chance to work from home. So, what does this mean for businesses wanting to introduce a return to the office? It is paramount for employers to check in with members of staff, and work with them to offer the option they feel most comfortable with. Health and safety is key One of the first topics employers should address is whether staff members feel safe in returning. Therefore, they should ensure the correct health and safety measures are in place before any logistics are arranged. By closely liaising with those responsible for implementing these measures, employers can guarantee all of the necessary requirements are met ahead of time. Once this has been completed, organisations need to make sure they regularly and clearly communicate with staff, which in turn, will reinforce their health and wellbeing as a priority. Some of the measure’s which can be implemented, include: n Sanitising stations – Anti-bacterial items, such as gel, wipes, disposable masks and cleaning products, should be positioned at entrances and at intervals around the office to encourage regular sanitation of hands and equipment n One-way systems – Clear signage should be in place throughout the building to provide direction to the flow of traffic around the office and reduce person-to-person contact or crowding in corridors and common areas n Dedicated workstations – To reduce contact between people and cross-contamination of equipment, businesses will need to opt for dedicated workstations and additional measures such as plastic separation screens Bren Standell, Commercial Director of Parcel Locker Solutions UK & Ireland at Quadient Bren Standell It is paramount for employers to check in with members of staff, and work with them to offer the option they feel most comfortable with