Back in the office – what we have learned
This month we have a slightly different article for you. With changes to government advice, encouraging people back into the workplace, we have written about our experience transitioning to home working and back again. We’ve been in the office for 2 months now and have seen both sides of the coin. We hope that our experience can help other businesses trying to make this decision.
- Remote working
We were no strangers to remote working, we already had a flexible work policy for staff after our offices burned down a few years ago and people could work at home if they needed to anyway.
- Our staff were already set up to work from home as and when they needed. They were excellent at adapting and coming up with new ideas to make the transition work smoothly.
- Despite that, it became clear that our remote servers were not capable of supporting an entire work force at home, so we needed to improve the existing provision and invest in more and better resources
- Zoom and Microsoft Teams were a decent solution to face to face meetings and worked well however, they just didn’t replace the quick conversation in the office or even in the corridor. We became less efficient and less able to move quickly. Time arranging online meetings was time we couldn’t get back, even if the technology worked first time.
- The decision to move back to the office
We kept a close eye on government advice regarding working environments and the partners worked through the feasibility of various scenarios. We wanted to make sure that when we did return to the office, our environment would be safe and to a high standard. We had to balance up the advice given by the government together with the need to be as flexible and responsive to our clients as we could and carried out a thorough risk assessment.
We are lucky in that we have a large office which meant that distancing could be achieved without compromising safety. At risk employees who were shielding were required to stay at home.
Ultimately the results of the risk assessment allowed us to move back into the office with sensible and robust protocols in place. These have now been in place for 2 months and have worked well. Every now and again we have had to issue reminders, but it has now become second nature to all concerned.
- Making the office compliant
The risk assessment results highlighted the need for signage in the office and the implementation of transit routes through the building. We made sure this was in place before we moved back in.
- We bought lots of hand sanitiser and put it around around the office. We also made it clear that sanitiser was to be used before and after using equipment such as the photocopier.
- The team was asked not to make tea and coffee for their colleagues and each person has an antibacterial spray for their desk which they use morning and evening
- Our office cleaner provided signs that everyone leaves on their desk. Either your desk is ‘clean’ or it needs a clean. Everyone has to leave the office before 6 when the cleaner arrives.
- The person sitting at reception has a screen in front of them, just in case anyone comes into the office, such as the postman
- Every member of staff sits at a desk which allows them to be more than 2 meters away from anyone else all the time. We have had to move furniture about to achieve this and its doesn’t necessarily look pretty, but it works.
- We have where possible, also restricted visitors to the office. This means that we are not holding face to face meetings on site and we have encouraged clients to use our remote tools and document portal where possible.
These is not a complete list of all of the actions we have taken, but if you are interested in the government advice you can find it here:
- The new normal – back in the office
We have been back in the office for 2 months and we are again more connected as a team. Communication is improved by our proximity, and access to all of our files and physical information has in turn has improved our efficiency which had of necessity reduced.
We are keeping the guidance under constant review and also making sure that everyone remembers to maintain proper hygiene and distancing.
If you are a business owner trying to decide whether you should move back into the office, we’d be more than happy to share our experience and offer any advice that we can.
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