Over the last few weeks, the government has lifted restrictions allowing some people to return to work. However, to abide by new social distancing rules and protect employees, businesses need to adapt to the new normal that so many of us have already been implementing in our personal lives.
But what does this look like? What can businesses do to protect their employees?
Work Remotely as Much as Possible
One thing that the spread of coronavirus has demonstrated is that most people can work remotely successfully. Many businesses had dragged their feet about implementing remote working, but the pandemic forced their hand. They had just a few days to find ways to adapt their practices and infrastructure to keep employees working while working from home.
Flash-forward to now, and 70% of businesses are considering changing their working practices completely to allow more remote working. The pandemic seems to have brought older, larger companies into a trend that many agile startups have been paving the way for in the last few years.
It’s no surprise, either – not going into the office means no commute. The average daily commute is two hours, meaning that people get back a whole lot of time to get more done, whether that’s time with loved ones, relaxing, or catching up on sleep. This gives them more energy for work and removes the stress of travel. It also means there are fewer distractions, allowing people to focus more easily on their work and get more done.
Allowing employees to work from home is good for mental and physical health. There are plenty of tools out there that businesses can invest in to embrace the remote working culture, too.
Check out our blog post to find out how to make the most of remote working in your business.
There are two types of technology that can help – those that keep employees in touch with each other when they’re working from home, and those that keep them socially distanced when in the office.
Tools like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams have seen huge increases in users since the pandemic as people search for the best way for everyone to keep in touch. The best tool for you will depend on what you need it for, but it’s safe to say that there are tools out there to do just about everything and that are suitable for every budget.
There’s also new technology emerging all the time to help people remain socially distanced in the workplace. PathFindr has brought out a new beeper that warns people if they’re within two metres of each other. Employees wear it around their neck, attach it to their belt, or place it in their pocket. It sends out a signal every couple of seconds to see if another device is nearby. If one is, it calculates how close it is. Should the device be less than two metres away, it lets out an audible sound warning people that they’re too close.
New Office Layouts
Many offices used to try to cram as many desks on to a floor as possible, but that’s no longer doable. Instead, desks need to be two metres apart. Where this isn’t possible – or as an additional precaution – Perspex partitions can be set up, giving employees individual cubicles.
Floor markings, much like the ones a lot of supermarkets have been using in the queues outside, also help to keep employees apart. This gives them a better visual of how far apart two metres is.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to allow some employees to work from home while others are in the office. Creating a rota based on who needs to be in the office, then tracking it with a tool such as The Holiday Tracker, ensures everyone knows where their colleagues are too.
Offer Flexible Working Times
One of the current issues with everyone returning to work is that many people start at the same time. This means that there’s an influx of people using public transport or driving again. It also means when they get to the office, there are more people in the stairwells, using lifts, queuing to make a hot drink, etc.
Flexible working hours means than people can avoid these busier times and work on a schedule that suits them. This can be great for employee morale and mental health. For employees that prefer to work later, it may even lead to increased productivity.
Scatter Lunch Breaks
Scattering lunch breaks is another way to keep employees apart, particularly if there are limited toilet facilities or a busy cafeteria.
Cafeterias could also offer employees packed lunches to eat at their desk – or outside – instead of them going down to the cafeteria and risking overcrowding.
We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, but one thing we can say for sure is that it’s changed the face of work forever. Whether or not that’s a good thing, only time will tell.