COVID-19:

Re-starting your business
guidance for offices

Further to the 10 things to consider when re-starting your business, there is specific guidance for office environments.

  • If you’ve furloughed staff, you’ll need to consider the timeframe agreed for returning to the workplace, so allow for this in planning arrangements. 
  • Consider the potential impacts of a significant period of time away from work, with some employees likely to benefit from a gradual / phased reintroduction.
  • Before re-opening, should the first days of re-opening be used to communicate expectations, integrate employees back into their job role and activities, assess any immediate training needs / support, deliver training, deal with maintenance / inspection issues, and the practicalities of managing challenges relating to social and physical distancing?.
  • Is direct contact (phone for example) appropriate, particularly where employees have specific concerns about returning? For example if they live / need regular contact with a vulnerable person.
  • Advise employees to avoid using public transport if possible, and where use can’t be avoided to comply fully with government regulation and advice, and the advice of the transport operator.
  • Enhance arrangements to ensure the wellbeing of those working from home is monitored and introduce systems to enable them to stay connected.
  • Develop and carry out enhanced workplace cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation programmes. Establish procedures for pre and post re-opening cleaning, disinfection and sanitisation. Areas for particular focus include touch points such as washing facilities, toilet flush and seats, door handles, push plates, hand rails, IT equipment used by employees and vehicles (company car drivers for example). 
  • If possible, provide cleaning stations at entrance and exit points and other strategic locations with signage to remind employees and visitors of the importance of washing hands and hygiene
cleaning surface with spray

Special considerations for home working include:

  • continuing to encourage those employees that can work from home to do so
  • reviewing policies and procedures specific to home and lone working, including arrangements for the provision of suitable work stations
  • ensuring that IT and cyber security policies and procedures reflect any changes in work arrangements, acknowledging the increased potential for security breaches when individuals are working from home / unsupervised.
cleaning office
  • Plan sufficient time to recommission previously shutdown machinery / plant and processes in line with all standard operating procedures (SOPs) and manufacturer’s guidelines
  • Complete and reinstate any inspection, testing and maintenance procedures including those of a statutory nature that may have lapsed since the shutdown. This could include utility services, machinery / plant (for example passenger lifts and escalators), emergency systems etc. Our equipment checklist may assist you, in addition to external guidance such as the HSE.  
office space
  • Review existing risk assessments and actions including safe systems of work / working procedures to check they’re relevant to your business’ operation and that you’re taking all the appropriate measures to ensure a safe working environment for your employees, including those that continue to work from home.
  • New risk assessments should be completed and the results and consequent actions shared with your employees (including any temporary and agency personnel), any visitors, contractors and other occupants or users where premises are shared.
  • Fire, security, general premises safety, people safety, wellbeing and COVID-19 specific precautions should be included in your review, implementing changes and / or enhancements where necessary to maintain an appropriate level of protection.
  • Introduce flexible working to facilitate staggered start and finish times and limiting the numbers of people on the premises at any given time
  • Discourage car sharing / employees from different households travelling to work together
  • Limit the numbers of people  permitted to use communal areas, rest rooms and other welfare facilities at any time
  • Work closely and collaboratively with landlords and other occupants in multi-tenure buildings to ensure consistency of approach in common areas
  • Change the layout of office space and rest areas to reduce the potential for face-to-face contact, with back-to-back or side-to-side working preferred

Consider: 

  • requirements for social and physical distancing for example, are likely to impact the practicalities of training delivery, including induction and toolbox talks. Consider this as part of the risk assessment process, including available facilities, numbers that can be safely accommodated, duration, potential barriers to communication etc.
  • familiarisation (site and plant for example) with returning furloughed employees and operatives potentially not having operated plant or been in a site environment for a significant period of time.
  • conflict resolution / management training to address potential colleague and customer challenges in implementing Covid-19 secure measures.

Further support can be found on our training page.

The risk management information and guidance provided herein is not intended to be advice for any specific requirements.

Readers should seek further advice when dealing with their individual and particular situations. Allianz Insurance plc shall have no liability for any action taken as a result of and in reliance on the information contained in this document. The information contained in this document is correct at date of going to print and may be subject to change at any time.  All rights reserved