Following the Prime Ministers statement, we are seeing the first tentative steps of the UK plans to ease restrictions. People are now being ‘actively encouraged’ to go back to work in situations where they are unable to continue working from home. Many business sectors, however, such as hospitality and leisure will not be seeing any restrictions lifted for the next few weeks at least.
For those businesses that can continue and increase operations, or reopen, such as in manufacturing and construction, there are several considerations that need to be made to ensure their teams are working safely.
Social Distancing in the Workplace
Within the current guidelines businesses will be expected to introduce measures to ensure social distancing in the workplace is maintained. In offices this could mean having to reorganise desks to ensure adequate space between colleagues, or in smaller spaces that colleagues are working back to back. Where possible doors and windows could be left open to aid ventilation.
In other scenarios, where it is difficult to maintain a safe distance, screens may be required, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) issued, and additional hygiene measures made available.
Many will be able to draw on how essential stores, such as grocery or pharmacies, have addressed distancing within their stores and protections for their staff.
There are several areas within time management within your business that can be looked at to keep your teams safe.
Continue Working From Home Practices where possible
Many businesses have quickly adapted to their staff having to work from home utilising a variety of modern technologies to minimise disruption. Indeed many have quickly seen the benefits to more mobile and remote working. Where possible this should be encouraged and continued. Our recent blog gives an idea of how to manage the working time of staff working remotely and using flexitime to balance the needs of the businesses with the differences working from home brings.
Staggering Shifts and Staff Scheduling
Spreading out the times your teams are starting and finishing minimises large groups being present at the same time. The aim is to reduce the number of people both leaving and arriving at the same time in confined spaces such as entrances and corridors.
Employees in office environments are usually all on a very similar rigid working day such as 0830 – 1700. Consider consulting with your employees, and in line with business requirements, stagger when people are arriving and leaving. One option, depending on numbers involved, may include splitting people into groups with slightly different new working days so rather than having everyone arriving around 09:00 the following is implemented
Group 1 – 0800 – 1630
Group 2 – 0830 – 1700
Group 3 – 0900 – 1730
In the interest of fairness these groups could be put into a rotating pattern so that each group takes turns at early, standard, and late start times.
Manufacturing & Production based Employees
Employees in manufacturing and production are often already working on shift-based patterns with different start and finish times.
In these circumstances to aid distancing at busy times such as shift crossover points where a team arriving will be meeting the team leaving – it may be worth introducing tolerances to stagger start and finish times within each shift.
For instance on a common 0600 – 1400 / 1400 – 2200 pattern staff could be asked to arrive and leave in stages. Alternatively you may want to ask the finishing shift to leave a little earlier and the starting to shift to start a little later. This would obviously be dependent on the ability that there could be a slight downtime between shifts. However, it would give the finishing shift chance to leave the site before the later shift arrived
Employees should be kept in the same shift groups to minimise social interacting with as few colleagues as possible.
The above process can easily be managed within a time and attendance system and good staff scheduling systems with self-service will give your employees full visibility of their working arrangements so that they are kept up to date in real-time about their expected work times.
Staggering Lunch Breaks
Once employees are on-site another feature to aid social distancing would be to stagger lunch breaks. Creating groups of employees with staggered break times achieves this. Creating a rota of times when each group should take their break throughout the day
Canteens will not be able to open, so businesses should ensure there are safe spaces for employees to take breaks whilst maintaining social distancing
A good time and attendance system can manage these break rotas for you giving clarity for both supervisor and employee.
Clocking Point Locations
For time registrations businesses could increase the points that employees can clock in or out. If you already have more than one clocking point in one location due to the team numbers involved, consider the following:-
- relocating a device to another entrance
- designate one for arrivals and one for departures.
Contactless Clocking and Access Control
Doors should be left open to minimise contact and increase airflow. For entrances that require control, if you are using keypads it may be worth looking at contactless readers. Each employee is issued a card and fob to swipe which releases the door.
It is worth considering that introducing access control can help maintain social distancing in the workplace by limiting teams or individuals to specific areas and reducing the chance of social interactions, such as visitors walking straight into office areas.
We have a wide range of software and hardware systems available to help you safely manage your employee working arrangements. We are also able to offer safe installation of any new system, including installing out of hours to help you maintain social distancing and a safe working environment.
Get in touch for a completely free, no-obligation personalised demo of how our solutions can help you achieve social distancing in the workplace.