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Suzanna Monckton
3 minutes length
Posted: 22nd May 2020

Here to Help: Becoming COVID-secure - what does this mean for SMEs?

The government has provided a list of guidelines to help companies make sure their workplaces are safe for employees to return to. They’re calling this being ‘COVID-secure’.

Encouraging businesses to translate the guidelines into the specific actions they need to take, the government is also asking them to undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment.

In addition, ways to thoroughly inspect businesses to make sure they’ve set up their workspaces securely are being discussed, and this could include asking employees to report their bosses ‘whistleblower style’ if they have concerns.

So, what does COVID-secure mean for SMEs?

The Government’s guidelines suggest businesses should consider the following:

  • Staggered shift times – to avoid too many people in your workplace at one time, the guidelines encourage you to stagger all shift times. This could mean longer office opening hours and additional HR administration, but IRIS HR Professional can help you to manage this through features like Timesheets and Rotas.
  • Working in ‘social bubbles’ – similarly, arranging for employees to work in a bubble consisting of fixed teams of the same people is another way to avoid employees having contact with lots of different people.
  • One-way office places – following the success of many supermarkets, creating a simple one-way system in the workplace is a recommendation to avoid unnecessary contact among employees. This will include staircases, break areas, and entrances to reduce the amount of people traffic moving around the building. Communication will be key in making sure the one-way system is taken seriously.
  • One in/one out lift policies – the guidelines recommended reducing the capacity of workplace lifts significantly and strictly only allowing employees in lifts on a one-in one-out basis once capacity is reached. Capacity is dependent on the size of your lifts.
  • Hotdesking ban – a sure-fire way to spread germs, hot-desking is to be banned in the COVID-secure workplace. Instead, employees will be given a fixed desk, two meters apart from any other desk and possibly with a cleanable divider (eg Perspex) attached.
  • Sanitation stations – including temperature monitoring equipment, hand sanitiser, desk cleaner, tissues and more, sanitiser stations should be made easily accessible around every workplace and employees encouraged to use these regularly. Scheduled reminders can be added to IRIS HR Professional to encourage this.
  • Virtual meetings (even in offices) – to avoid full meeting rooms, and even the spread of germs in fairly empty ones, organisations are being encouraged to continue virtual meetings wherever possible. But by enabling you get the people data and tools you need anytime, anywhere and on any device, IRIS HR Professional can enable this in your business.

IRIS HR Professional can help

Designed specifically for SMEs, IRIS HR Professional offers numerous features to help you and your employees adapt to a COVID-secure workplace. Including:   

  • Business continuity planning – you can use IRIS HR Professional to record the location of your teams and the assets they need to keep working, such as laptops and mobile phones. This will be especially useful if some of your employees need to continue working from home, while others return to a physical workplace.
  • Workforce planning – generating reports on the demographics of your workforce will help you understand the ongoing risk COVID-19 places on your employees, including age profiles and employees with underlying health conditions
  • Employee engagement – free to IRIS HR Professional customers, IRIS Engage helps you communicate key messages and understand employee feeling by providing a wide range of communication tools, including texts, emails and online forms. You can segment staff into groups, teams and individuals, ensuring the right people receive the right information when it matters most. And to reduce time-consuming admin, messages can also be scheduled in advance and be written on pre-written templates on subjects including legislation changes and HR policies.

To read the Government’s guidelines in full, click here

And to explore more free COVID-19 resources for SMEs – including videos, blogs and guides – take a look at our Here to Help hub.