Getting UK businesses and people ready for a safe return to work

Getting UK businesses and people ready for a safe return to work

The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving quickly, but this month we’re seeing a definite shift in emphasis to how the UK will start to (slowly) relax the lockdown.

On Sunday 10 May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation gave employees who are unable to work from home the green light to return to the workplace.

The following day, the UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy set out more details on the next phase of its response to the virus and new ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines were made available to UK employers to help them in the first steps to getting their businesses back up and running — as safely as possible.

While further relaxation of lockdown measures is dependent on meeting the Government’s five tests, minimising the economic impact of COVID-19 by protecting and restoring jobs is a feature of the UK’s recovery strategy.

It looks like we’re starting to move towards a significant milestone — a return to the workplace for most employees.

Moving towards a safe return to work in the UK

However, supporting employees on their safe return to the workplace is a potentially daunting task that brings a host of new and potentially unwieldy processes.

Government guidelines to UK businesses cover aspects including risk assessments, new cleaning processes and managing transmission risk. From a practical perspective, this can mean managing the flow of people in and out of the workplace, creating staggered start and finish times and setting cleaning schedules based on when and which employees have been present.  

Yet it’s not only about making adjustments to the physical space.

Supporting employees emotionally through the process is critical and when the time comes to bring people back there will be a spectrum of reactions, ranging from “I can’t wait” to “no way, I’m not ready.”

A two-pronged approach that addresses both the logistics of a safe return and the emotional needs of employees is key.

Taking away complexity to put people first

At ServiceNow, our commitment to supporting businesses in their response to COVID-19 has never been stronger.

In March, we announced four emergency responses apps to help our customers and others manage emergency outreach, self-reporting and exposure management and almost 6,000 installations have already taken place.

But our work hasn’t stopped. That’s why we’re ready with ServiceNow Safe Workplace, a four-app suite and dashboard designed to look after the complex digital workflows that will be essential for businesses to navigate the next phase in the UK Government’s strategy.

The suite covers the key elements that businesses need to ensure the safe return of employees to their traditional workplace:

1. Assessing employee readiness to determine availability, return timeframes, personal health, and more, to determine the actions needed to support employee wellness, safety and security;

2. Screening employees before entering the workplace to ensure compliance with entry requirements such as temperature check and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);

3. Managing PPE inventory levels across various locations and facilities to ensure the physical safety needs of your workforce are met;

4. Configuring clean and hygienic, socially distanced workspaces, with processes to manage cleaning schedules, employee numbers across sites and buildings, and employee shift patterns.

Returning employees to the workplace requires careful planning, execution and agility and that’s what our apps are designed to achieve.

Reworking the workplace together

Yet to make the new world of work, world better, we need to take advantage of what new technology enables us to achieve: the ability to focus on the employee to create safe and productive work experiences for everyone.

In his 10 May address, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated how the UK will be changed by the pandemic experience but highlighted his belief that we can be “more resilient, more innovative, more economically dynamic”.

At ServiceNow we know that businesses are facing unprecedented challenges and we’re committed to helping our customers, partners and ServiceNow employees prepare for the next normal.

By dramatically simplifying the complexity of managing the return to work process, we hope to give business leaders, HR teams and workplace services the confidence and ability to focus on the work that matters — helping to protect jobs and get back to business.


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