The Covid diaries: Day 38 - Hey Ho, Hey Ho ...

The Covid diaries: Day 38 - Hey Ho, Hey Ho ...

A daily fly-on-the-wall blog about running a legal business during the Covid-19 crisis.

By Darren Isaacs - 11 May

We now have some updated guidelines from the Government on how the UK is going to get back on its feet, following a public statement by the Prime Minister yesterday (Sunday) evening.

It is a bit wishy-washy but from a HR perspective it basically seems to boil down to this: keep working from home if you can, go into a workplace if you need to, avoid public transport whatever you do (and wear face-masks), and if you are out and about (including at a workplace) continue with social distancing and increased hygiene measures.

As mission statements, these all seem fine as high-level goals.

But I am starting to ponder what specific and practical steps, an employer could be putting in place. This is relevant anywhere but particularly important in a dense urban location like central London. The obvious things will be workplace redesign and installing fancy hygiene stations around the office (alcohol gel, wipes, etc etc).

There are also going to be some other challenging issues, like how we even get to/from work whilst maintaining social distancing. In the past, taking the Tube (London Underground) to work was like playing a game of "sardines"*. We may not be Tokyo just yet, but, even so, there is no chance of keeping 2 metres/6 feet apart on a rush-hour train, no matter how well-intentioned some of us may be.

What about the other, not so obvious, changes required when we actually get into work? For example, do we set up one-way movement lanes on the floor of the office, so people don't accidentally bump into each other? What about water-cooler gossip - it's going to have to be shouted across the office floor instead (which, sadly, may put a dampner on things).

Then we have the issue of some employees wanting to come into the office when they really should not, and some refusing to come in when their boss thinks they really should.

No doubt looking at all of these issues in detail will keep me, and my colleagues, quite busy over the next week or so, as we try to plan how we can all work with a new set of Covid-19 rules.

* Sardines = a Victorian version of "hide-and-seek" in which the players end up hiding together until they last one finds them. Picture the players all trying to squeeze into a closet together, and you will get the picture.

If you would like to read our Covid diaries starting from day 1 please click here.