Returning to The Workplace in June


Posted on 27th May 2021


Having just moved to step 3 of the roadmap, I know myself and the team are certainly enjoying returning to meals out in restaurants (in the warm!), the return of gym classes and finally meeting up with many of our friends and families.

We are now looking forward to the next stage of restrictions being eased. As part of the planning for this, I was asked to be on a panel of experts advising businesses on the safe return to the office, organised by The Dorset Chamber of Commerce. The panel consisted of the following areas:

  • Legal
  • Insurance
  • HR
  • Health & Safety
  • Technology
  • Mental Health

The quality of the advice really demonstrated what a great business community can achieve, when experts collaborate to share information on their areas of expertise.

I have tried to summarise some of the key takeaways from the event. However, I would recommend that businesses seek further professional guidance in these areas. I am of course happy to introduce you to any of the panel experts who were only too happy to help.

It is understood that many office-based businesses are intending to continue to follow blended working arrangements, with some changing to provide flexible hours as well. From legal and HR perspectives, the advice was to make sure that these intentions are communicated with your employees. There have been many changes in employment law recently so definitely worth reviewing your contracts of employment, to ensure that they not only meet these changes but also accommodate any new working practices or even changes in staff roles. Where possible, you should also consider providing guidance or support on how employees can set up an ergonomic workstation at home.

With Health and Safety in mind. You should ensure that the relevant risk assessments are carried out. A few things to consider… Are you issuing staff with PPE equipment (face coverings, face shields)? If so, are you providing training on the safe use of the equipment? Have you provided adequate hand washing facilities and hand sanitisers etc? Have you addressed workplace cleaning? Is there adequate signage regarding the various requirements (distancing, face coverings etc)?

With many businesses intending to retain a blend of home and business premise working, there are many new technologies available. VOIP phone systems, video calls and conferencing, the list is endless. However, there has been great advancements in this area and many companies have embraced new and emerging technologies far sooner than they intended.

I have written a few previous articles on the insurance issues, however, as always changes occur often. Below are some of the initial key points to consider. There are of course many more and I would strongly encourage businesses to have an open discussion with their broker for further guidance.

  • If you are considering a blend of home and office workplace for your staff, will you be issuing them with any business equipment? If so, have you extended your policy to cover the equipment whilst away from the office i.e. at the home of the employee? It is worth noting that we have seen a few claims of tech being dropped whilst being brought in from the car and installed in homes.
  • Are your usual business premises going to be unoccupied for prolonged periods of time? Insurers often have an unoccupancy condition which reduces cover. Whilst they were flexible on this during the initial lock-downs they are, or will be returning to usual soon, so it’s worth checking.
  • If your business has had to pivot into new trade sectors, it is essential that you advise your insurers. Some may not cover the area you have extended into and it may be necessary to replace the insurer.
  • Has your turnover, wages, stock etc been affected? Either an increase or a decrease in this area can cause premium increases and reductions. Again, it’s really worth checking to be sure.
  • Have you had to make any redundancies or furlough in the last 12 months? If you have ‘Directors and Officers’ or ‘Employment Practices Liability Insurance’, then insurers will want to know the full details.

Mental Health. I think most business owners have noticed that this has become far more prevalent in the last twelve months and rightly so. Many local businesses have appointed mental health champions or included mental health awareness and checks as part of their HR program. There are many local groups who can provide guidance and support in this area. It is clear that the effect of the last 18 months have affected us all in different ways. Workplace wellness has become more than a buzz word and businesses are genuinely embracing this and implementing it into their working practices, which is really amazing. We have a free guide on how to implement workplace wellness programs for your business. Drop me an email if you would like a copy.

If you would like to become an Aspire client, or even just pick our insurance brains! Our team will be happy to provide a review of your arrangements. They will point out any gaps in cover, advise you of any insurance products you may not have (or be aware of) and they will explain what is covered in a way that you understand. They will perform a market review to ensure your costs are competitive and you are achieving excellent value for money.

For a review of your current arrangements feel free to contact us on 0333 222 1182 or email me.

Tristan Webb - Managing Director