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Modern Workplace / 4 minute read

Helping You Prepare for a Return to the Workplace

COVID-19: Signposting You to Advice, Resources and Support

As the lockdown eases, organisations are navigating their way through a maze of decisions and duties.

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In May, the CIPD urged businesses to ensure they could meet three key tests before bringing their people back to the workplace: is it essential? Is it sufficiently safe? And is it mutually agreed?

But behind these questions lie copious others, as employers juggle with not only their legal obligations but in practical terms what a return to the workplace will look like. Across the IT Lab group, we believe that technology is an enabler. The right tools will make this transition period considerably easier and allow you to face the future with greater flexibility and resilience.

And undoubtedly, the working landscape has changed forever. Remote working will be more commonplace, so the technologies to improve efficiencies and optimise collaboration are vital. As a Microsoft advocate, we see the M365 stack as central to the way forward, and many of our clients – such as the CIPD, are leveraging remote working technologies as they position themselves for the road ahead.

 

Here, you’ll find the core considerations for your organisation in one place, with deep links to trusted resources: consider this your COVID-19 business compendium. You may be doing well in some of these areas but have work to do in others. To help you, we’ve included the support available from the IT Lab group, all of which is free. And we’ve referenced some of our own experiences and learnings, which you can draw on.

And you heard it here first; our products and services team is currently developing exciting Power Apps. These will help employers safely manage the movement and safety of their employees and evidence their compliance with the current regulations. Subscribe to our blogs at the foot of this page and be the first to hear.

So, let’s take the big questions – and answers, one at a time:

 

Safe Working and Risk Assessments

The government has published guides on working safely during the coronavirus in eight typical settings. You can find the appropriate guide(s) for your organisation here, which span various indoor and outdoor scenarios and working in or from vehicles.

Before even considering a return to the workplace, you should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment. The Health and Safety Executive website lists the steps you should take, and includes templates: Working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

 

Human Resources: The Legal Considerations of COVID-19

Global HR Lawyers Lewis Silkin give the legal angle on employers’ obligations across several excellent blogs, including Coronavirus – FAQS on managing a safe return to work and FAQs on staffing decisions when reopening workplaces.

And the CIPD has created a guide on planning your organisation’s next steps after furlough and as the lockdown measures ease: COVID-19: returning to the workplace.

 

Strategic Decisions: Your Board's Role

Only one in five chief financial officers surveyed by PwC said they believed their companies could resume “business as usual” within a month if the crisis ended today. The multinational has published a guide for leadership teams: Returning to the workplace after COVID-19: What boards should be thinking about.

 

Request a free, half-day consultation with one of IT Lab's tech experts

 

Your People: Internal Comms

Aside from your health and safety obligations, how you communicate with your people as your organisation transitions from lockdown to beyond is arguably the most vital piece.

Learn how our Chief People Office managed our internal communications as the crisis unfolded in this on-demand webinar: Engaging Your Workforce in the New Virtual World.

And in this time of fast-breaking news, the tech to engage with the right people at the right time is crucial. Whether your employees remain at their kitchen tables or are on their way to the office on a bus, you must be able to relay information effectively. Watch The Intranet: Your Crisis Management Tool, or read our blog: Crisis Communications: Advice for Employee Comms in the Covid Era.

And PR Week offers advice in this article: Internal comms during coronavirus: What works. Again, the value of communication and collaboration tools is clear – as well as a flexible company intranet, PR Week references Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. As experts in these solutions, we’ve published a wealth of guidance. Here are two of our most-read articles:

 

 

But regardless of your company’s size, culture and budget, there are things you can do now, and hopefully, you’re doing some of them already. Fundamentally, treat people as you wish to be treated. We can’t possibly know what’s going on in everyone’s lives at this time, so make allowances for this and don’t make snap assumptions.

Be a good listener, be receptive, and above all, be honest. You may have to make some unpopular decisions, but you can still honour your people by keeping company with integrity. As much as possible, involve those affected in the decision-making process. If they feel they have had a voice, they’re more likely to support buy-in or at least be more accepting.

 

Your People's Wellbeing 

Here at the IT Lab group, there can be no doubt that our People and Talent team have been wearing their pants outside their trousers since the start of lockdown. Within days, multiple campaigns to maintain a sense of community, promote wellbeing and manage stress were up and running.

Notably, our people enjoyed remote workshops with mindfulness coaches, and numerous Microsoft Teams and Yammer groups are thriving. These span live workouts and kids’ groups to professional development on a host of topics – and all within a supportive, safe space.

As we work towards a return to the workplace, the IT Lab group recently distributed an employee questionnaire to understand what people’s expectations and preferences are. And such surveys are frequent, as the leadership team seeks to learn what’s working and what isn’t. All employee feedback will help inform the direction of the company and what our new normal will look like.

Check out: Coronavirus and work from Mind – a charity we proudly supported last year, and this PDF guide from the Mental Health Foundation: How to Support Mental health at work.

 

How the IT Lab Group Can Help You Get Ready for Working Life After Lockdown

We’re offering free advice and support, including:

  • Get a quick answer to any question - our technologists and consultants from across the IT and change management spectrum are here to help. Tell us your question here, and we’ll promptly return to you. 
  • Free consultancy session with a subject matter expert – meet our tech experts, see their areas of expertise and book your complimentary session here.
  • Subscribe to our COVID-19 Support Hub – don’t miss out on the latest webinars, guides and blogs. Subscribe to our hub here, and we’ll keep you updated. 

So do get in touch: we're here to help.

 

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