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What is a COVID-secure workplace?

Tonight’s update from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure.”

He also talked about COVID-secure standards.

Below I’ve pasted some of the transcript from the broadcast. You’ll also find a list of questions I’ve written to put you on the front foot for the week ahead, you need to determine the answers for your organisation.

As Comms practitioners, this COVID-secure messaging is the crux of the matter for us today. I have a feeling we will have many conversations along these lines in the weeks and months to come.

But the guidance isn’t out yet. My inbox and DMs have messages from clients and Comms friends who are seeking the guidance.

I would love to say I have the official advice to help you tonight. But the reality is I don’t. I believe the guidance mentioned in the press conference at 7pm tonight will be shared via the Gov.uk website in the coming days.

I know that’s late, I know you’re looking for clarity right now as you have morning meetings with your leaders lined up for first thing tomorrow.

So what I’ve done is collate what exists at the moment, to give you a head start. I’ll keep this blog post updated as more information is released.

(Apologies to my global readers, I know I’m sharing a lot of UK-specific guidance right now. If you have resources to share that we can learn from, which are helping your country communicate the next steps, please let me know).

From what I’ve read, I understand the Government has been working with employers, unions and healthcare professionals to put the guidance together. Rumours are it’s 60 pages long and due out tomorrow, Monday 11 May 2020. Time will tell.

11 May 2020 update: The COVID-secure guidance is now available. See the Gov.uk website to access it.

COVID-Secure guidance:

11 May 2020 update: The Government’s 60 page document has just been published. However, it says the COVID-Secure guidance is still to come.

 

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: What does the Government’s new messaging mean?

In his briefing, Boris Johnson said tonight:

“And so no, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures. And the first step is a change of emphasis that we hope that people will act on this week.

We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must. We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work. And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.

So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home. And to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure.

And when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle. But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following COVID-secure standards.

From the statement tonight, people are allowed to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise – you can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household. However, you must obey the social distancing rules.

Further reading: read the whole transcript.

What is COVID-secure?

As a phrase, COVID-secure is a new one. I have a feeling it will seem old before we know it.

I expect it to relate to our workplaces physically, from how frontline workers are kept safe with appropriate safety measures and PPE, physical screens and hand washing facilities in place or advice about how they enter other people’s homes and facilities, to how office layouts are reconfigured to adhere to the 2m apart rule.

It will likely include information like washing uniforms on site, staggering start and finish times and regulating the use of communal areas such as lifts, mess rooms, breakout spaces and meeting rooms. I expect to see rules like one-way flows in place and encouraging employees to continue working from home if they can, which Boris Johnson mentioned in his speech.

That’s off the top of my head, I imagine it will contain a lot more.

I hope it also includes the psychological aspects too because in my mind, being COVID-secure needs to relate to how our employees feel too. What if they don’t feel secure or confident enough in what their workplace is providing?

I will keep coming back to this blog post to update it with the relevant information. We need to be patient, More details will come, I know this is tough and you’re looking for information to help you, I believe it is coming.

11 May 2020 update: The COVID-Secure guidance is now available via the Government’s website.

11 May 2020 update: The Government’s 60 page document has just been published. However, it says the COVID-Secure guidance is still to come.

For now, I’m going to leave you with a set of revised questions from my How to prepare employees for the future blog post and some additional resources to help you.

Here’s a suggested list for you to answer internally and publish. 

It’s important to note you may not have the answers to these questions for a while yet. But have them to hand and use them to start creating your own list.

  • What does COVID-secure mean for our organisation?
  • How do COVID-secure standards apply for all our employees? (Tip: separate standards out for employees’ roles and locations)
  • What are we committing to as a company in terms of protection as part of being COVID-secure? (e.g. Personal Protective Equipment, hand sanitiser, physical screens)
  • How can employees raise concerns about unsafe practices?
  • How can employees order items they need? What’s our procurement process?
  • What changes do we need to make to our physical workplaces?
  • What decisions are we communicating about furloughed and shielded employees (and when?).
  • When will the office reopen?
  • Can I return to work if I don’t use public transport?
  • When will our retail space reopen?
  • What happens if our employees are unable to work from home?
  • What should people do if they feel unwell?
  • What if people within my team don’t want to come into the office?
  • What’s happening in the background that I might not be aware of?
  • What does COVID-secure mean for us as an organisation?
  • Do we need to update our policies?
  • What support is available if employees are anxious?

This is what is known so far – I expect this page will be updated.

Further reading

Coronavirus (COVID-19) retuning to the workplace guide – by CIPD. Published 5 May 2020.
Flexible working measures for retuning to the workplace – by CIPD. Published 6 May 2020.

Further reading about COVID-19 via the All Things IC blog

Thank you for stopping by. As ever, I welcome your thoughts, you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Rachel

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 10 May 2020.

Comments

  1. A T says:

    What is a covid secure workplace? I want to know the list of requirements for a covid secure workplace.

  2. Rachel White says:

    This is an incredibly useful resource today, thanks Rachel

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