COVID restrictions have been lifted but this does not mean that COVID-19 has disappeared.
Effective risk management is still advisable, in order to minimise disruption within your organisation.
Complacency in the workplace
The risks of contracting the COVID-19 virus have not disappeared. In fact, a future re-introduction of restrictions has not been ruled out should the need of doing so present itself. So, what can you do to keep your stakeholders safe and what can we, as industry leaders, promote as best practices to adopt?
Recent studies conducted by behavioral scientists and researchers, discuss that tackling complacency in the workplace with regards to COVID-19 regulations should be at the top of organisations’ agendas. However, it is also important to consider that from a legislative perspective, employers are not required to implement specific COVID-19 rules. On the other hand, from an employee’s perspective, easing of restrictions across the world have caused an increase in worries of further waves and new lockdowns, alongside the fear of contracting the virus when at work or during the journey to get there. Individuals’ worries are caused due to the perceptions of other individuals’ behaviors, and due to a rather slow decrease of positive cases recorded in recent weeks. In some cases, reports have shown an occurrence of positive cases within fully vaccinated individuals too.
It is now up to organisations to decide whether to adopt a pragmatic and proactive approach to managing COVID-19 with a long-term approach. It can also be argued that organisations can implement general pandemic/outbreak management strategies as long-term solutions, which would ensure that suitable continuity plans are in place should new global pandemics emerge in the future.
We have identified some key aspects to consider as employees, from any industry, gradually return to the office. Our outlook and approach are based on current industry evidence, past case study analysis, and best practice solutions that we believe can be adopted to ensure long-term success within any organisation.
The below solutions are general areas that we believe are fundamental in ensuring long-term success in organisations, moving forward.
We believe that allowing your employees to take advantage of splitting their time between working from home and working at the office could provide them with a more comfortable return to facing the risks of contracting the virus. Moreover, hybrid work could provide organisations with more profitable solutions. However, ensuring that at-home work environments are suitable to employees’ needs is essential; therefore, conducting appropriate risk assessments tailored to your employees should be a primary item on your health and safety agenda.
Over the past months, individuals across the world have unfortunately undergone traumatic situations, whether that was losing a loved one, shielding, self-isolating with no human contact, falling ill with the disease, or losing their jobs.
Employees are now worried about returning to the office. The recent introduction of ISO 45003 also emphasises the importance placed on mental wellbeing and the proactive management of psychological risks. Drafting strategies and involving employees in building a safe environment to work in can bring organisational competitiveness to new heights, especially in light of the upcoming economic recovery.
Regular Testing for Employees
One out of three positive COVID-19 cases do not present symptoms. Recommending employees undergo regular Lateral Flow Tests could prevent local outbreaks from taking place. At the moment, the UK has free resources available to ensure your workplaces are safe.
Employers roles and responsibilities
Both academic and industry case studies show that leadership involvement in daily operational activities can not only boost employee morale but also significantly improve overall organisational performance. Employees notice the commitment implemented by their managers and are, consequently, motivated to excel in their daily tasks.
Managerial commitment to ensuring the implementation of a positive safety culture is argued to be one of the most effective approaches during these delicate times of economic recovery and, as we gradually shift towards a safe return to the office, continuous improvement, and dedication on behalf of leadership teams can result in the unprecedented success of organisations.
Conducting workplace risk assessments is not only a legal requirement but a tool that can assist organisations in preventing the most serious of accidents. Specific COVID-19 risk assessments have recently been the norm; however, industry evidence shows a recent decrease in companies’ commitment to undergo continuous revision of workplace risks associated with the repercussions of the global pandemic. Ensuring that ongoing workplace risk assessments are kept updated with internal and external environmental factors can yield to ongoing long-term success of organisations from a wide variety of industries.
Organisations with an international footprint will need to plan their operations based on the restrictions and guidance throughout various countries. In fact, some countries may continue to implement stricter measures compared to the UK, while others may lift all restrictions sooner. Adopting a consistent approach while remaining vigilant and updated with legal requirements is paramount to a successful return to the office. Moreover, if an employee travels abroad, ensuring that all the necessary arrangements are made and that all requirements are adhered to can assist organisations in carrying out a smooth operation and, simultaneously, provide the employee with a stress-free journey.
Embark Consulting prides itself in a varied, empathetic, proactive, and pragmatic service offering. Our consultants specialise in providing bespoke solutions to a variety of industries, from small family-run businesses to multi-national organisations.
Through an initial evaluation of an organisation’s needs, our consultants are able to craft detailed solutions that would suit company employees, whether that is implementing rigorous testing regimes or drafting COVID-10 policy statements to encourage compliance with behaviors that would reduce the risk of transmissions.
Our team has experienced a range of countries, enabling us to implement best practices that can accommodate different cultural needs in today’s diverse and inclusive work environments.
Our expert consultants have collated a user-friendly guide to provide you and your employees with the best practices we believe are most suitable as long-term solutions to effectively managing COVID-19 in your workplace. Our resources and expertise can guide you towards a comfortable and safe return to the office, with recommendations that are not necessarily policies, but approaches towards the adoption of suitable behaviors to meet various needs so as to keep all safe, in and out of work. Via the use of risk assessments, bespoke procedures for outbreak management and business continuity, or the provision of health and safety retained services, we can help you to succeed in a safe return to the office.
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