Returning to the office safely with COVID-19

During the lockdown caused by COVID-19, the office staff at MVIS / Bartco UK have been working from home, but as the UK begins to get moving again, we have been hard at work in putting together ways that we can operate from the office, but with the ever present threat of infection being the main consideration in our minds. There are a number of a departments within our organisation that have always required a degree of on-site presence, from the manufacturing team with Bartco UK to the delivery team for MVIS; it has been important for our team to be trained in, educated in and actively practicing measures that will help keep  them safe and reduce the spread of the virus.

Some of the infection control measures we have implemented have been extremely strict, putting intense demands on our team on top of already demanding roles, especially regarding health and safety. However, it is this aptitude towards skills development and adherence to compliance that has worked to our teams’ advantage, allowing them to learn the new skills they need to operate safely whilst already being mindful of health and safety. These measures include-

  • Disinfection of all collected units on arrival
  • Limited delivery / service vehicle sharing with mandatory masks if sharing
  • Mandatory disinfection of all surfaces touched & shared facilities
  • Hand sanitising stations located throughout the buildings
  • Perspex screens dividing workstations
  • Daily temperature readings
  • A complete layout change to the building, including repositioned desks and relocation of marketing office and doors to control the flow and direction of foot traffic
  • VMS deployed in strategic locations for safety information or no access
  • All external doors & windows left open when people are in the building
  • Withdrawal of shared utensils and pots
  • Table and canopy built outside to allow for socially distanced meetings across departments
  • Repainted the workshop floor to mark out personal working ‘bays’ stationed 2m apart
  • Second workshop set up in our storage facility, Unit 19, to allow for social distancing
  • New ‘snap cabin’ recreational area for the workshop team, further segregating the use of shared facilities
  • Personal headsets for phones rather than using the handsets
  • Daily Microsoft Teams meetings updates
  • Visitor entry restrictions marked by VMS
  • Placement of workplace safety signage to remind employees to wash and sanitise hands
  • Weekly risk assessments of all areas to ensure we adhere to the ever-changing rules of COVID

The layout change is not small; it’s been a major renovation project to our office that has involved blocking old entrances off and making news ones to better facilitate the safe flow of people from one section of the building to another.

Our office’s new layout has seen the building divided into territorial ‘pods’, separating departments and ensuring that the staff who are required to share a space do not come into potentially infectious contact with any more people than is required.

In establishing set entrances, exits and pass through routes for each pod, we can limit our areas of concern to shared facilities such as toilets. Outside each pod we have installed hand sanitising stations that staff must use when moving from one pod to the other and masks must be worn by all staff when outside of their pod.

In line with the government guidelines, we recently began to phase in some of our office staff who wanted to come back in as the lockdown measures ease. To allow this to happen safely, we require each member of staff to take a temperature test daily when they enter the building. This helps both the company and our employees take early steps in the event that any of our team are displaying a fever, and by taking these measurements daily, we have comparable and consistent data that would help to identify a fever, or unusual personal temperature as soon as it presents.

These constant reminders scattered through the office, the drastic change to our work place layout and the steps we are having to take as individuals serve as a system that not only help keep our team safe, but also help them feel safe, allowing them to still work productively without unnecessary anxiety.

As you can see, the office now features new, higher desks with ergonomic stools and mats placed under for foot comfort. We took the opportunity during the renovation to make sure that workspaces helped to promote a healthy and active lifestyle, and these stools help to correct posture and improve our employee’s standing health.

Every member of staff has been well equipped too. Upon return to work after lockdown, everyone has been given protective visors, masks, a packet of antibacterial wipes and another bottle of hand sanitiser. The desk layout within the pods have been positioned to ensure maximum efficiency between departments that require any form of interaction.

Critically, however, we are not forcing anyone into the office who is not required to be, minimising the number of people that are sharing the facilities and space, therefore minimising the risk. Indeed, those who have come back either wanted to or were required to by their role. With the measures the company has taken, we can accommodate these members of staff in the building by taking the measures that are required to be COVID compliant.

The effect of this gives our team a ‘no pressure’ approach to the situation that lets them to take control of their own health, both mental and physical, allowing them to return to work in the office when they feel comfortable.

These measures would not have been possible without the use of systems such as Microsoft Teams. Teams allows our staff to maintain a strong level of communication by using online video chat to conduct our normal business discussions.

In order to allow us to use Teams in this way, some of our staff had to undergo training, which was a fairly routine procedure for MVIS and Bartco UK staff, who take part in training regularly as a vital factor in staff progression. 

As training underpins our approach to our staff and our business, so too it underpins our approach to COVID-19. Our employee’s aptitude for development has been a big advantage for helping to keep the company operating smoothly and to keep Britain moving, and most importantly of all, helping to keep themselves and others safe.