It’s the end of furlough and the summer holiday period is over. With more people returning to some form of normality after the worst of COVID, it’s time for many people to go back to the office.

In this article, we discuss the impacts of getting back to work and the challenges and changes for certain areas of the office.

Canteen chaos? Or back to normal?

We have seen turbulent times for canteens and catering companies over the last 18 months, not knowing at times if they can or should be open and having to quickly adapt to rules that were evolving day by day because of Covid.

The good news is that we now know more about the virus and how it spreads, whilst rules for coping with the virus have become more stable.

There seems to be a clearer stance from the government that’s accepted by the public. Although facemasks and social distancing are no longer mandated, they are recommended and it’s up to everyone to do what they feel comfortable with.

Research into how the virus spreads has been carried out and some results indicate a relatively low risk that the virus spreads through touching surfaces such as cutlery and door handles.  It is therefore for Companies to decide what their policies should be in order to address their customer and staff requirements and concerns.

In summary, confidence is growing, and employees are more likely to return to the canteen.  However, all businesses (including those offering catering services) should still take necessary precautions and have in place high standards when it comes to the safety of employees and customers.

Reception areas

Returning to the office means we are back to higher volumes of people passing through reception areas. It also means more visitors for face-to-face meetings.

Having a one-way system for entry and exit was a policy adopted by many businesses following the peak of the pandemic, including restaurants and any offices with a reception area. This is still a great way to remove the risk of the virus during peak times but it’s not essential and in some office layouts, it’s not practical to implement.

Current government policy is to rely on double vaccination of the population along with testing to identify how the virus is spreading. This means that the use of face masks when entering a building as well as having a bacterial handwash station in reception areas might not be hard and fast rules, but they are still great ideas that can help promote a safer working environment.

Should you leave the doors open?

It’s widely accepted that being outdoors or having good airflow can really help to reduce the spread of the virus. It also has other health benefits as well!

During the winter, it can be much harder to keep doors and windows open but having reception doors open where possible, during peak times can really help to promote a good airflow.

It also has the added benefit of not having lots of people opening and closing doors over a short period of time.

We think that having windows open to help bring in fresh air is a great idea but, in some environments, and during the winter, it’s a case of it being easier to say than to do!

Cleaning services

The return of employees to the office requires more and deeper cleaning. Companies might decide to clean surface areas at more regular intervals rather than just at the end of the day when the office is empty.

Whilst the risks of catching the virus from surfaces are low, regular, and thorough cleaning routines should be incorporated as best practice as it will help to reduce the spread of all unwanted illnesses during the winter months.

What are your new Covid policies?

There are lots to think about with furlough ending and more people getting back to work. Do you have a plan in place to ensure staff are working in a safe environment?