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How to Prepare for a Safe Return to Work?

The phased return to the workplace that’s happening across Ireland is a welcome move for our businesses and for our society. After the disruption of lockdowns, more people can safely return to their workplace.

As an employer, it is important that you plan for the reopening of your workplace and put the right structures in place. The good news is that there are established protocols you can follow, as well as specific government guidelines. This blog will help you put those measures in place and get your business back up and running in a way that’s safe for everyone.

As an employee, it’s important to know those protocols too and any differences in the way you’re going to work. Again, this blog will help you get a clear understanding of that.
 

Preparing your Return to the Office

For both employers and employees, being prepared is key to making the return to work successful for everyone, putting structures and measures in place and acknowledging that certain work practices are going to be different to the way they were before
 

RETURN TO WORK FOR EMPLOYEES

 
- Expect Change in the Workplace

The return to work will see a difference in work practices for most businesses. This will vary from company to company, but once the new practices become routine, they shouldn’t disrupt your ability to work.

- Commuting? How About Cycling to Work

If you use public transport to get to work at peak times be sure to wear a mask and observe social distancing where possible, whether or not you have been vaccinated. If you would prepare to travel earlier or later, to avoid crowds, discuss this with your employer. If driving or cycling to work is a viable option, see if it’s possible to get parking space on the premises.

- Back to office? Don’t Forget Social Distancing

Desk or work spaces may have been moved to allow for safe distance between everyone so there will be some disruption to routines you are familiar with.

There will probably be posters and leaflets advising you clearly on what protocols to follow. Generally these will follow observing social distancing, especially in areas where you would normally gather like a kitchen area, canteen or rest area.

Find out if one of your colleagues has been nominated as the go-to person for information on the new set-up – they will have the answers you need.

You may be asked to wipe down your desk or machinery at the end of the working day – this is for yours and everyone else’s safety.

- Talk to Your Managers About the “New Normal”

Your managers will let you know whatever new processes are in place but be sure to talk to them directly if there’s anything you are unsure of. Every business in Ireland is having to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and it is understandable that every employee will have questions, so just ask.
 

RETURN TO WORK FOR EMPLOYERS

 

- Consider Flexible Working Hours

Many commuters have reservations about using public transport at peak times, whether or not they have been vaccinated. If your staff have concerns about peak-time travel, consider if they can work more flexible hours.

This may mean opening your business premises earlier or later and allowing for that - making sure that light, heat, alarms, supervision and services are all in place. It may also mean providing extra parking spaces for cars, motorcycles or bikes, for those who would prefer to use private transport to get to work.

If we can help or advise on the implications of this for your Energia energy usage, please do not hesitate to call us.


- Work Safely Protocols

The Health & Safety Authority (HSA.ie) have a suite of useful information that is free to access online, with specific guidance for you and your staff on the measures you need to take both before and after you reopen your business.

This includes information for employers and employees, with clear guidance on the health and safety protocols and posters offering advice that you can download and put up in your workplace.


- Workplace Safety Measures You Can Take

There are specific measures you can take, before anyone returns.

1. Appoint a lead worker or line manager as the primary go-to person for staff to discuss anything to do with Covid-19 protocols in the workplace. The HSA website has all of the checklists and information this person will need.

2. Look at seating or the positions where people work from. Ensure that there is sufficient safe distance between people, before you reopen.

3. Look at shared areas where people congregate, like kitchens or rest areas need to be adjusted for safe distances and make any adjustments necessary

4. Ventilation – ensure it is the best that can be.

5. Consider if you are going to ask staff to wipe down their desks before leaving each day, wear masks when they’re away from their desks or eat their lunch at their desks. Order those masks and any cleaning equipment well in advance.


- Travel and Quarantine Rules

If your staff travel locally or internationally as part of their job, it’s crucial that you understand what travel is and isn’t permitted and any relevant quarantine protocols.


- Acknowledge Questions and Concerns

 An important part of the return to the workplace is acknowledging and addressing any reservations or concerns people may have. By following the best guidelines and advice you can make sure that everyone’s welfare is being looked after. If individual people have specific concerns, meet them and discuss those concerns at the earliest possible opportunity.


- Don’t Worry - It Will Work!

Changes will need to be put in place before you reopen and after, but by being prepared, you can look after everyone’s safety and get your business back on track.


If we can help or advise on the implications of this for your Energia energy usage, please do not hesitate to contact us. See more reasons to choose Energia as your electricity provider.

For more information, see Energia COVID-19 Info & FAQs. 
 

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