Returning to the office

As COVID-19 restrictions ease, organisations are considering how to return to the office. To get it right businesses will need to balance short-term and long-term planning to keep employees’ well-being at the top of the agenda, according to CIPD.

In fact, maintaining hybrid working styles could be key any successful transition back to the office, says the body in its report COVID-19: returning to the workplace.

“This is an ideal time for employers to think more creatively about effective ways of working, and harness more agile and flexible working practices to meet individuals’ changing expectations, said the report. “The CIPD is calling on employers to build upon the period of remote working and to adapt and learn to make hybrid working a success, rather than rushing people back to their workplace when the risks of COVID-19 subside.”

Risk assessments

Employers will need to consider detailed risk management approaches to make sure risks of infection and minimised and support employee mental health and wellbeing.

“Employers can use their coronavirus specific risk assessments to assist in their decision-making process,” the report said, “considering the feasibility of implementing social distancing and local outbreaks (if any).”

In addition, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said it will conduct spot checks on employers.

Inspector calls

“We are making calls so we can give expert advice on how to manage the risks and protect workers, customers and visitors,” HSE said. “We are also working closely with local authorities, assisting them in the sectors they regulate such as hospitality and retail.”

“By calling and visiting premises and speaking directly to employers, we can check the measures they’ve put in place are in line with government guidance,” it added.

HSE has published a guide to help employers understand what to put in their risk assessments.

Mental health support

CIPD said that the pandemic had put a strain on many people’s mental health, producing anxiety and increasing isolation.

“Many will have experienced challenging domestic situations, such as juggling childcare or caring for a vulnerable relative, and financial worries if their family has had a reduction in income. Some will have experienced illness, or bereavement,” it said.

Employers can seek guidance and help from CIPD or from organisation such as Mind.

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