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simonhaskell

17 Jun 2020, 18:53

New guidance from BSI on safe working practices during COVID-19


The BSI (British Standards Institute) has issued new guidance on safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Building on formal guidance issued by UK Government, BSI has developed a guidance document to assist organisations as they adjust the way they work, to protect workers and other people in their workplace from the ongoing risks related to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

One of the main areas covered in the document is how to manage your office’s various resources - handy for facilities managers.

Manage Your Office Resources In 8 Key Areas

 We’ve summarised 8 key areas for FMs to focus on when managing precious resources:

Maintenance of equipment and infrastructure
  •  Check every system to see if it is working to its optimum settings during a pandemic scenario.
  • Set up daily, weekly and monthly checklists for all testing on site.
  • Double-check with maintenance and service providers regarding building occupation levels.
  • Check emergency lighting, electrical systems, gas checks, security systems and water systems.
  • Keep humidity at 40-60%, as viruses generally survive better in low-humidity environments.
Support from human resources

 The Society for Human Resource Management looked at the effect of coronavirus on mental health. It found that 37% of employees who had depression-related symptoms had not asked for help.

Employees may worry about the future of the company and their jobs. Human Resources should ensure that there is psychological support available for all employees. Offer this support in internal communications.

Solid communication with employees

It is best to communicate often with employees to help reassure them. By keeping them involved it will minimise stress and support good morale.

  • Tell employees which workers are responsible for resource management in the company.
  • Set up a process for two-way communication with employees. Also, explain how they can escalate any issues. 
  • Use different forms of communication, such as audio announcements, emails, internet pages with Q&As, phone calls, posters, and video conferencing.
  • Give employees information on hygiene, social distancing and how to behave at work. You can do this before they return to the office and when they are back.
Use a professional hygiene plan

 The cleanliness of the office is a priority during the COVID-19 outbreak. It is imperative to manage all cleaning material, hand sanitisers and handwashing resources.

A specialist cleaning contractor can help you manage your office resources for cleaning the office. Companies like Nuserve are experts in cleaning and managing specialist cleaning equipment for businesses.

Use this hygiene plan from Nuserve as a reference, which explains the process of protecting, sanitising and disinfecting offices.

Financial resources

Arrange a catch-up meeting with department heads to check financial budgets. Check to see if they need any other resources that are not in the original budget. If you need to buy further cleaning or PPE material. You can create a streamlined authorisation procedure for quick payments.

An excellent resource is the webinar series from The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management. It discusses the practicalities of returning to the office.

Supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)

 It is prudent to maintain a healthy supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times. The Health & Safety Executive has information on PPE maintenance and how to use it at work. So you can minimise the risk in the office, you will need to use the correct PPE for your office.

Technology

 Check the availability and installation of PCs and printers. So they are ready-to-use for employees. Designate a person to manage any specific tech queries for their new workstations.

Avoid hot-desking and the sharing of computers, monitors, keyboards, and phones.

Training Needs

Assess the current training calendar for the company. Decide which of the planned training programmes is necessary. Try to avoid group training and opt for remote/virtual training if possible.

Also, consider COVID-19 training for employees who host visitors. Or employees who must interact with customers, delivery drivers and the public.

Summary

The BSI has advised that they will update their guidelines. You can sign up on their site for the latest version. It is best to try and follow the advice as close as you can. It will give your employees the confidence they need to return to work.

At times of uncertainty, employees look for direction and leadership. If you manage your office resources, you will be able to provide the best possible care to your employees. So, they can then adapt to their new surroundings comfortably.

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