How to reopen your business safely
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How to reopen your business safely

People management considerations for your post-lockdown business plan

Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen this month following the announcement that Boris Johnson had set out new plans for easing the UK’s lockdown. To help businesses reopen safely, the Government has released sector-specific guidance for businesses returning to the workplace, outlining the measures businesses must take to reopen their business safely. These can be seen in full here.

As a business owner, manager or leader, you will need to carefully consider how you can manage the return of your employees to the workplace in a safe and efficient way. While there is still a lot of uncertainty for businesses, it is clear that the future of the workplace will be very different and companies will have to make significant changes in order to adapt to the new working world.

Employers must plan for what is likely to be a phased return to the workplace, taking into account the steps needed to safeguard the health and wellbeing of employees at all times. There will need to be significant changes to the way you manage and communicate with your workforce to ensure you comply with the Government’s guidelines.

What are the key changes for people management post-lockdown?

Health and safety

With health and safety being the greatest concern for employees returning to their place of work, you will need to ensure you have taken all the necessary precautions to provide a safe working environment and this will likely mean significantly adapting your people management strategies. With this in mind, it is vital that you conduct a thorough risk assessment to establish any new potential risks. You should consider all of the following:

  • Workspace and social distancing
  • PPE Requirements
  • Mental and physical safety at work
  • Travel (if arranged by the employer)
  • Hygiene measures

Mapping out a re-induction process

Once you have established that you can  reopen your business safely think about how to reintroducing your staff. However, before people can begin to return, you’ll need to first map out your re-induction process, ensuring that you continue to focus on the health, safety and wellbeing of employees. Within this you should consider a number of different scenarios and how the return to work could change over the next few months. This could include:

  • Working hours – businesses returning to the workplace may need to operate at reduced hours or on a rota system to begin with and you should consider how this will affect employees
  • Training – staff will need to receive training on new working practices to ensure each individual can work safely
  • Issues related to furlough – consider the implications of bringing furloughed employees back; how much notice will you need to give them before they can return to work? Have they taken up volunteer work or any other type of employment?
  • Managing holidays, sickness and other absences – consider how an employee’s absence could impact operations
  • Mental health – Employees will have had different psychological experiences as a result of the pandemic which are equally as important to consider as the physical effects, so consider what processes you may need in place to support employees?

Maintaining consistent communication

You’ll need to work together with employees throughout this period and ensuring you keep communication clear and consistent will be crucial for this. Allow your employees to be involved in the process and consider the personal circumstances of individuals in your decisions.

Consider what could prevent employees returning to work immediately – some may have childcare responsibilities while other may have to remain in isolation due to being at higher risk. Things will continue to evolve as new guidance is released, and by keeping the lines of communication open you’ll be better placed to adapt to these changes.

Writing a full post-lockdown plan

Effective people management will play a key role in ensuring you can successfully reopen your business safely and will help you to make business critical decisions. However, a good post-lockdown plan should also cover all the critical areas of your business. We’ve put together a summary of the key things you should consider when planning for post-pandemic recovery to help your business adapt to a ‘new normal’. You can download our full guide here.

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For all the latest information on Covid-19 and the measures the Government, and Devolved Governments, are taking, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website