Coming out of lockdown — how to make and communicate a plan

As life in the UK slowly begins to open up and lockdown measures are tentatively eased, we’re all taking small steps to getting back to normal. As a business owner, you’ll no doubt be thinking about how to safely reopen your workplace in a way that makes your staff and customers feel safe.

With this in mind, we caught up with our People team to get their tips on crafting and communicating a successful return to work plan for you and your employees.

Making a plan

Engage with your employees and customers

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly created anxieties for your staff.  Understanding their concerns and circumstances will help you find the right solutions for your return to work. If your team is quite small, try conducting one-to-ones with each of your employees. Outline your ideas for implementing social distancing measures and ask for feedback. For bigger teams, try sending out a survey. Use a form that allows employees to add comments to their feedback. Adopt the same approach with customers, clients and suppliers to learn more about their plans and expectations too.

Know the new rules

Keep up to date on the latest health and safety advice to ensure you’re implementing social distancing measures correctly. Your first port of call is the Government’s guidance — some good resources are:

In addition the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) has put together the following resources:

And finally, ACAS have an entire section dedicated to planning a safe return to work, so it’s worth checking out their resources to inform your plan.

Once you’ve completed your risk assessment and made any adaptations necessary, you can move onto the next phase.

Make adjustments that works for your staff and customers

You now understand the challenges your staff face, what your customers expect and what’s required of you by law. To find a solution that fits all three, you’ll likely need to be more flexible and innovative than ever before. 

Try to accommodate variable shift times, part-time or full-time remote working, and staggered start times. Your workspace, meetings, deliveries and customer interactions all need reviewing – nothing should be off limits. Talk to peers about their approach and discuss ideas.

In addition, show understanding and compassion for each individual’s personal circumstances. This is crucial in meeting the third of CIPD’s key tests — is the plan for returning to work mutually agreed? 

Communicating the plan

To employees

Next you need to communicate this to your employees in a way that reassures them. Explain that you’ve listened to their feedback and be honest and open about the decisions you’ve made. Strike a balance between professionalism and empathy. Opt for communicating through video call, if possible, as visible leadership is particularly valued in difficult times. You can then follow up with a summary email, detailing the precise steps you’re taking, and put any relevant documents in one easily accessible place.

To customers

Having engaged with your customers already, you should know what concerns they have. Get in touch by email or on your social channels to reassure them, and explain how you plan to welcome them back. If they know what to expect, they’re much more inclined to come back.

Other tips

Look after mental health

Loneliness and mental health issues are on the rise, so having action plans to deal with them is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

In your one-to-one meetings, focus not only on how your staff are performing at work, but how they’re feeling on a personal level. Reassure your staff that it’s okay to feel confused, stressed or anxious, and let them know that you’re always available to talk if they need to. In addition, there’s a wealth of resources to support you in facilitating good mental health amongst your employees, including guides from CIPD and ACAS.

Maintain regular social contact

Coronavirus has also drastically reduced our social contact with others, which can lead to us feeling isolated and alone. If possible, try to encourage online interaction between staff through things like Skype lunches, online team activities (such as games like Quiplash or All Bad Cards), and regular business updates. These will help everyone feel more connected, despite physical boundaries.

Find ways to keep your staff motivated and productive

Though lockdown is starting to be released, being isolated can impact your staff’s motivation and  productivity. Incentives can help to get productivity back on track. Show your gratitude for staff who’ve gone above and beyond. It doesn’t have to be expensive — simple things like saying thank you, or expressing your appreciation with a thoughtful gift or public shout out go a long way.

Give advice to team managers on how to work on these areas

For businesses with multiple teams, equip your team managers with actionable solutions to monitor these areas effectively. Ensure they have enough time to properly manage these new challenges, and direct them to resources you think might help.

All information is correct at time of publishing. While we want to help as much as we can, the information and documents found here are provided solely for informational purposes and should not be considered financial or legal advice. To the extent permitted by law, Funding Circle does not accept any liability for any loss or damage which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of, or reliance on, the information contained here.

If you have any questions, please speak to your professional adviser or seek independent legal advice.