With high streets beginning to reopen following months of lockdown, many brokers will be either preparing to reopen or readying themselves for an increase in footfall.
There is a vast amount of guidance available from local authorities and the government regarding the steps that business should take, so to avoid replicating official information, this article will instead seek to encourage firms to think about the general issues surrounding the return to high street trading, including:
- Proximity - For those that have ventured out for shopping purposes, to visit a bank or post office, for essential trips, etc., you will have doubtless noticed a change in the way individuals interact and probably the way that you feel regarding proximity to others. The official guidance is clear, but is it always possible within your premises? What steps can be taken to limit bottle necks, both for staff and customers?
- Contact points - Door handles, pens, kettles, paperwork, etc., all represent contact points which need to be considered. Do they need to be cleaned on a set schedule or can they be removed as a factor?
- Policies and procedures - any action that is needed to be taken regarding the above points, should be written into official policies and procedures, and these used in order to reintegrate staff upon their return. This will help alleviate any concerns that staff may be experiencing and also reduce the potential for employer liability.
- Training - alongside the introduction of policies and procedures, it would be advisable to carry out training on any changes and expectations, and accompany the training with regular reminders. It is important that employers remember they are asking their employees to come back to work in what is essentially an alien environment.
- Wellbeing - Staff returning to work after an extended period may well take time to acclimatise and may also feel stressed about risks. Employers should take extra care to monitor staff wellbeing during this time.
- Renewals and growth - What if customers don’t return to the high street - where will the business come from? For businesses that are reliant upon walk-in business via their high-street premises, the fact is that many customers may not venture back out in the short to medium-term. Some individuals are still shielding and others may be dissuaded from visiting businesses until the situation becomes clearer. Firms with this concern should consider revisiting their business continuity plans, sales methods and marketing activities to explore opportunities to reach out to existing and prospective clients.
- Continued flexibility - Although lockdown restrictions are lifting, they are far from over and employers need to remember that there may be members of staff that will still have additional responsibilities at home, whether that be caring for dependents who are considered to be at a higher risk or have children that are still at home when they would ordinarily be at school. There may also be members of staff that are considered higher risk themselves and therefore would need special consideration upon the reopening of the business. Employers need to remain sensitive and give careful consideration to individual requirements.
- Employee Screening - Employers may wish to carry out regular screening of employees e.g. temperature checks. Whilst this is considered acceptable, there are considerations to be made with regards to data protection. The ICO has issued guidance and this is summarised in our recent article on balancing data protection with Covid-19 workplace safety.
The team at RWA is standing by to support firms with any regulatory compliance or Human Resources issues that they may have. Contact the team today via the helpdesk on 01604 709509 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns.