Can my office stay open during the November COVID-19 lockdown?

Vicki Filson

Vicki Filby-Filson
Senior Consultant, Assurity Consulting
5th November 2020

‘To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so (for instance people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing) they should continue to travel to work/attend their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting vital sectors and employers.’ 

This is fairly easy to justify for manual roles such as maintenance, construction, or in the case of Assurity Consulting conducting physical workplace inspections, sampling and testing. However, what about desk-based roles and offices?

Over the past four months we have seen people return to offices, not in big numbers and for many not every day. As workplaces have become COVID-19 Secure, in addition to essential roles that were ineffective at home, this has included some who feel happier in the office rather than home.

Keeping our buildings safe from a general as well as COVID-19 perspective remains essential. But considering the swathe of other restrictions that have been put in place, such as with grass roots sports, how does it continue to affect particularly mental health and wellbeing?

Yes, we have been asked again to stay at home if we can to minimise the spread of the virus and protect essential services. However, this does not mean that mental health is less important. Businesses should be re-visiting how they are supporting staff to work from home and actively encouraging healthy working practices. Many of us are guilty of sitting down all day, succumbing to multiple online meetings and filling what was previously commuting time with desk-based work time.

 Some top tips, are you: 

  • Making sure that your employees feel supported and can raise concerns;
  • Encouraging flexible working hours – it is significantly more pleasurable to go for a run or walk in the sun at lunchtime than in the dark at 6pm (or not at all);
  • Re-establishing good communication with your employees if this has faltered over the months;
  • Making sure you are putting breaks between online meetings – when working in an office, there are natural breaks between meetings, which are just as important when working at home;
  • Reviewing your stress risk assessment – like all risk assessments, change requires review;
  • Making sure that your managers are trained to recognise signs of stress in their teams; and
  • Reminding employees when it's time to switch off.

Please also see our other insights regarding home working earlier in the year:

https://www.assurityconsulting.co.uk/knowledge/insights/homeworking

https://www.assurityconsulting.co.uk/knowledge/insights/keeping-yourself-motivated-whilst-working-from-homeblog-post

https://www.assurityconsulting.co.uk/knowledge/insights/isolation-and-your-mental-health