How Do We Create a COVID-Secure Workplace?

Updated: May 26, 2020

Whether viewing this as the ‘new normal’ or a temporary obstacle to overcome, one thing we can all agree on is the need to adapt. With the national lockdown set to progressively ease over the coming weeks, more businesses will need to adapt so they too can reopen their doors and look to recovery. To support this collective recovery, we have created this guide to help you create a COVID-Secure workplace that works for you.

Review the Right Guidance

With so much speculation, it’s really important that you get the most accurate information on what you need to do for your particular business. A visit to the official government guidance on working safely during Coronavirus offers 8 guides that cover a range of workplaces. As no one will know the intricacies of your workplace quite like you, the first step is arguably using the appropriate guide(s), to determine what you need to do. Once you have an idea of the official guidance for your business, then you may wish to refer to wider guides, expertise or services to support you. Layrd Design offer a great 'Welcome back to the office' document, outlining changes that can be made to adapt an office space to meet COVID-Secure guidance.

Assess Risk to Plan your Response

Not only does developing a risk assessment help you plan an appropriate response, it also forms a crucial part of your commitment to the welfare of staff and visitors. Government guidance indicates that every employer should be carrying out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment. Often the idea of developing a risk assessment can be over-complicated. Regularly carrying out risk assessments for a variety of venues, events and exhibitions, we advise a step by step approach that asks common sense questions:

- who might be harmed and how?

- what you’re already doing to control the risks?

- what further action you need to take to control the risks?

- who needs to carry out the action?

- when the action is needed by?

You can find further guidance and templates on creating risk assessments at HSE. If you need support developing your own risk assessment feel free to ask us for advice. By creating a clear common-sense assessment, you can then determine what actions you need to take.

What do you ‘Need’ to do?

Notice we say ‘need’. That’s not because you don’t also ‘want’ to keep your employees and visitors safe, of course you do. However you may not need the slew of products and services currently saturating the market. As we developed our own range of products, we strived to do so with empathy and an understanding that this is not a ‘want’. With almost all business under immense strain, cash flow challenged and recovery uncertain, the last thing any of us really want to do is cash out on unnecessary kit. So our simple view remains, if you don’t ‘need’ it, don’t buy it. There are many changes you may need to make that can be achieved by a simple rearrangement in-house or by getting a little creative yourself. Of course, if you have a ‘need’ for any products or services in order to get your business up and running there are many options out there. Just make sure you explore what these options truly are. You may find that under the surface the products on offer don’t actually exist yet, aren't genuine or due to the complications arising from coronavirus there is a pretty significant lead time. If you’d like any advice on products to manage a COVID-Secure workplace, please feel free to ask us.

Communicate COVID Related Changes

So you’ve assessed risk, created a plan, but have you shared it the right way with the right people? The situation is certainly new on us, as increasing google searches for the phrase ‘unprecedented’ have highlighted. As a result, injecting some clarity wherever possible is a welcome remedy that helps all of us manage the situation and get back to business more effectively. With employees this will likely be a case of outlining your risk assessments, indicating responsibilities, changes in procedure and safeguarding measures you have in place. Having a core document or guide to refer to may be a helpful touchstone for staff. Be prepared to have questions or issues that arise on the fly, chances are a few considerations flagged by staff or visitors may prove a valuable part of initial planning, so open up the conversation early. Both employers and employees can find useful information from ACAS here. With regard to your visitors, this is where some signage, however rudimentary may come into play. By now most of us have been herded around a supermarket following floor markings, waiting patiently on a sticker with shoe-prints on it. It may seem a little odd at first, but these directional signs do help visitors follow guidelines and keep everyone safer. Consider both the general messaging as well as specific points for your workplace. Keep it simple and ensure the information is easily visible, don’t forget digital either, consolidating your message with email and social media can help you remain COVID-Secure while also spreading the word that you’re open for business. You can find a customisable poster with general safety messaging for download here. Or if you did need specific safety posters, displays or stickers, you can find some of our products here.

Remain Responsive

Whilst the return to some form of working normality can’t come soon enough for many of us, it’s also worth bearing in mind that a return to lockdown could also be ahead. It may not be quite the same lockdown we have experienced, but uncertainty over a ‘way out’ and how we manage COVID-19 longer term remains. We should continue to celebrate the little wins and collectively support our businesses and economy recovering. However, it will be important to take lessons from our experiences and prepare a more agile and responsive workforce for the foreseeable future. Retaining an ability to work from home will not only help you manage staff upon reopening, but soften the impact of a second tightening of restrictions. Equally as restrictions loosen and teams can come back together in a sense, it could prove an ideal time to collectively form continuity plans. Certainly easier said than done for many of us, with ourselves reliant primarily on the return of events and exhibitions. However this responsive planning may also involve getting creative with, to use another buzzword of the times the ‘pivot’. Whether this is augmenting an existing service or products, or developing something new, what is it they say about necessity and invention? We will shortly be launching our very own 'pivoted' services...although something we have been planning for sometime, there's no doubt that Covid-19 accelerated our plans. Relaunching our dedicated marketing brand 'Image Development' as well as a new interior graphics service, we considered our existing strengths and where we could best offer genuine support to our clients and collaborators while accommodating the challenges brought by Coronavirus.

We hope this guide helps you start creating COVID-Secure workplace to support your future recovery. If we can be of wider support across interiors, marketing or COVID-19 specific products, please get in touch.

Some helpful resources referenced above to support you implementing COVID Secure guidance: