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covid-19

Do employers need to be concerned about monkeypox?

By Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. It can pass between humans through close intimate contact, household contact or changing the bedding of someone who has it when not wearing appropriate PPE.

The Government has issued advice for anyone who has come into close contact with someone who has monkeypox to self-isolate for 3 weeks.

An important point to make is that monkeypox is not another Covid. We might be drawn to think this because of the use of ‘isolation’ but experts say it poses a very low threat to the wider public. It is not as easily transmissible as Covid, and recovery is fully expected. However, as we saw during the pandemic, things can change quickly so employers should be prepared.

It goes without saying that if an employee has a confirmed case of monkeypox, they should be treated under normal sickness rules. Most symptoms clear up within 14-21 days so they would receive SSP or sick pay, whichever is stipulated in their contract of employment, as with any other illness, if they met the qualifying criteria.

Issues could arise where an employee is advised to self-isolate – although currently this is only advised rather than being a legal requirement.

Currently the advice is that those who have had unprotected direct contact or high-risk environmental contact with a confirmed case should isolate for 21 days including exclusion from work. If the person can work from home, that appears to be the most sensible solution.

Those who have unprotected exposure to infectious materials including droplet or airborne potential route should be excluded from work for 21 days if their work involves contact with immunosuppressed people, pregnant women, or children. Again, working from home could be a solution here, or moving the employee to different duties which does not involve contact with those people.

If the person cannot work from home, then the question of pay crops up. SSP will not be payable for the isolation period unless the employee gets too ill to work during it. In a similar way to the current Covid isolation position, employers will have to decide whether they will require close contacts with a confirmed case to not come to work for the 21 days or whether they will still require them to come in.

If they require them to stay at home then this should be on full pay. Anything less than that is likely to risk an unlawful deduction claim as it’s the employer’s choice to temporarily withdraw work from the employee.

There is no legal requirement to inform an employer that you are a close contact with someone with monkeypox, but employers can make it a contractual requirement if they choose. Data on this should always be processed in line with rules on processing health data.

Although monkeypox is not generally passed through the air, colleagues may be concerned if they become aware that someone they are located near to is a close contact. Employers who don’t require close contacts to isolate should consider some adjustments to where they sit or work. This is particularly pertinent if any colleagues are immunosuppressed or pregnant.

Close contacts with a confirmed case are advised to notify the contact tracing system. Employees claiming to be a close contact should be able to provide their employer with evidence of their contact with the contact tracing system.

The Future Workplace – Making it seamless and secure

Rob Hancock, Head of Platform at Giacom

After many months of changing lockdown rules where companies have had to implement remote and hybrid working policies accordingly, businesses are looking to the future beyond COVID-19 as workforces return to their offices. But what will the future workplace look like? 

According to new research, businesses have found that their employees prefer a mixture of remote and office-based working, with over three-quarters of staff wanting a hybrid approach long term. Proving that they can work just as successfully and productively from home, it is now the employer’s job to adapt their business model to support both remote and office-based working. Rob Hancock (pictured), Head of Platform at Giacom explains how the channel can support organisations when making this transition in a seamless and secure way.

An Evolving Landscape

The pace of change businesses in all industries had to undergo over 2020 highlighted the importance of being agile during challenging times. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digital transformation, as without the right technology in place, organisations will either sink or swim.

The role of the channel has been to continuously support its customers through the journey of adapting to remote working and digitally transforming in order to stay ahead. By educating customers on the importance of security, as well as the available technologies and strategies that can support their transition, they will have the right support system in place to maintain business as usual – or even unlock additional productivity – during unprecedented times.

Organisations are trying to be agile to survive, but there is always room for improvement. Quickly and easily responding to change needs to become a core competence natively for all businesses to be able to adapt, as it’s clear that this is not a problem that’s going to go away overnight. By working with a reliable partner, companies will have the right tools in place in order for them to succeed through the pandemic and into the future.

Leveraging Existing Technologies to Collaborate

Technology plays a key role in the smooth transition to a ‘new normal,’ keeping virtual teams engaged while enabling seamless and secure communication within a dispersed workforce. Digital solutions must be able to support both employees who choose to work from home, as well as those who have returned to the office.

The channel’s role in enabling seamless collaboration and communication is vital in order to combat any further disruption and keep businesses functioning. MSPs must rethink how they can best support their customers, while embracing new and innovative ways of working to fulfil their demands and expectations. Vendors who offer a range of products to fit diverse needs and the tools to deliver outstanding customer service won’t only help businesses right now, but will help unlock long term productivity, security and collaboration.

The pandemic has significantly accelerated the adoption and usage of cloud solutions to support remote working. Many businesses already had these tools in place, but just weren’t using them effectively across their workforce. For example, many companies have Microsoft 365 deployed, which includes Microsoft Teams. These organisations have had access to such video conferencing tools, but had not needed to use it effectively until COVID-19. Since March 2020 Microsoft Teams has experienced a mass surge of users, jumping by 70% to 75 million daily active users.

Additionally, COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for the interest in virtual desktop solution such as Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), which provides each member of the workforce with the same IT environment, regardless of the device including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) they’re using and whether they are remote or office-based. The desktop effectively becomes cloud-hosted, providing a more secure electronic perimeter which replicates that of the physical office, making it easier to manage one central location.

The Importance of Security

When implementing a hybrid approach, security becomes a complex issue, as the risk landscape has changed. In the office, it’s easier to manage and control security within a physical perimeter and managed environment. As soon as you have a scattered workforce, this perimeter disappears, and now organisations have to put in place additional digital protocols to mitigate any cyber risks. Having a good quality MSP partner that understands the importance of security, and thinks about it in a proactive way is key for end customers.

Using technologies such as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to provide secure access from home into remote business systems enables users to securely access systems that the business wants them to gain entry to, but more importantly, making sure that outsiders can’t.

However, fundamentally, the biggest weakness in an organisation’s security infrastructure is the human user. Cybercriminals are always upgrading their tactics, often more quickly than businesses can train their staff. In order to keep up to date, businesses must take a more proactive approach and utilise cybersecurity resources, such as security training and threat detection tools.

Conclusion

Without education and support from the channel, businesses will struggle to keep pace with the amount of change and understand what tools they need to survive and thrive. Reliable partners are needed now more than ever to support companies with workforces working from home and also in the office.

Offices will become places that people visit less frequently, perhaps only to collaborate and to host necessary meetings. Successfully implementing a hybrid approach is still a work in progress for many, and collectively, the channel will begin to find better ways of working and implementing this strategy. Of course, existing and new technologies will continue to play a key role in this transition as we undergo the next digital transformation.

Verdantix report – 5 best practices for success in the hybrid working era

When you look back to the beginning of the first lockdown, are you proud of how rapidly your facilities team was able to adapt to enable your business to survive – and possibly even thrive? But what now? Do you have concrete next steps for your workplace strategy?

A growing number of organisations have announced their plans to shift to a hybrid system of remote and in-office work. Corporate real estate and facility management leaders have a key role to play in operationalising these hybrid strategies and implementing change at the building level.

For a limited time, Planon is offering free access to a report by Verdantix which outlines five best practices for success in your future workplace strategies for 2021 and beyond. The report is based on a thorough evaluation of 100 return-to-work strategies and global interviews with 250 corporate heads of real estate on their post-COVID strategies.

Click Here to Request Report

Virtual Roundtable: Experts discuss Facility Management, Technology & the Future of Work

By Planon

Are you evaluating return-to-work strategies? Looking to build confidence around the technologies and plans your teams choose to implement to deliver safe and healthy work environments post-pandemic?

In this LIVE roundtable discussion a panel of experts from Frost & Sullivan, KPMG, Schneider Electric, Philips and Planon will discuss the evolving role of facility management and technology in creating a successful return-to-work experience, and share some best practices around FM, technology, and approaches to hybrid work.

Join us on 29 June to learn how other organisations are balancing productivity, employee engagement & cost savings in the post-COVID working environment.

Register Now

PMC is Business As Usual during Covid-19

By PMC

“It’s business as usual at PMC and we couldn’t be prouder”

At this critical time PMC is proud to be able to continue providing the same high standards of service to its clients. We’ve adapted to government guidelines and continue to provide robust support to our client network, some of which play a direct role in facilitating crucial services during the Covid-19 crisis.

  • We’re safely responding to all callouts and enquiries.
  • We’re serving both new and existing clients.
  • Our staff are closely following Government and Public Health England guidelines.

We’re quickly responding to all enquiries. Talk to our team now on 0151 526 6288 or email admin@pmc.uk.com.

How our staff are staying safe

We’ve adapted our processes to follow Government and Public Health England guidelines and help slow down the spread of the virus. We’re working hard to make sure we keep providing the same reliable service as safely as possible.

All staff are trained in and implementing national infection control advice.

Any staff members experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, or living with someone experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, are self-isolating for 7-14 days in line with Government guidelines.

How our staff are keeping you safe

Office staff

Our office team is providing a full service remotely. They have access to all the usual software and systems. You can reach them via email, on the phone and even through a video call.

Onsite staff

All onsite staff will follow this procedure:

  • Use hand sanitiser before, during and leaving client sites.
  • Wash hands before, after, and regularly throughout the site visit.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 2 metres between each other and anyone else they encounter.
  • Request clients also maintain a distance of at least 2 metres.
  • Clean any surfaces before and after they come into contact with them.
  • Avoid any unnecessary contact with surfaces and door handles.
  • Travelling in separate vehicles.
  • Carry access permits at all times.

For more information, visit www.pmc.uk.com.

Reduce contact points in the workplace with touch free drinking water solutions from Zip Water

By Zip Water

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in incomprehensible ways. What is clear is as we emerge from lockdown there will be a need to incorporate touch-free technology to meet the vital health and hygiene requirements that the UK government has implemented, to ensure a safe return to the workplace.

With the average person touching their face more than 20 times an hour, it’s possible to transfer viruses from everyday objects, such as handles and taps, to the mouth and eyes, and vice versa. At Zip Water we have a number of new touch-free drinking water solutions for the workplace. Whether you already have a system fitted and are looking for a contactless retrofit solution or want a brand-new product that will enable staff and visitors’ hands-free access to drinking water, at Zip we have it all!

The brand-new Zip HydroTap Touch Free Wave offers a 100 percent contactless solution for filtered boiling, chilled and sparkling drinking water. To dispense water, a user simply hovers their hand 1.5-5cm from the smart infrared sensor and the water flow will stop immediately once their hand has moved away, if the tap is touched or grabbed it will deactivate.

For areas that require larger volumes of filtered chilled and ambient water, the innovative new floor-standing HydroChill HC03 touch-free dispenser is the perfect solution. Easy to install in areas away from the kitchen – such as staff rooms and corridors – this dispenser also features a nano silver surface coating that works to kill up to 99.9 percent of bacteria across a 24-hour period.

If you already have a Zip HydroBoil or EconoBoil system fitted in your workplace, our simple to install touch-free adaptor allows for the dispensing of boiling water without needing to touch the handle. The adaptor can be quickly and easily fitted over the existing HydroBoil or EconoBoil handle to enable users to dispense boiling water by pushing back on it with a cup.

To find out more about any of our products, please click here.

Do your employees feel safe at your premises?

By Fireco

The impact of the virus on society

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists from all over the world have been researching the symptoms, transmission and prevention methods to help us better understand the virus.

In the meantime, we have all been following the ‘Hands, Face, Space campaign promoted by the Government in order to help keep everyone safe. With the belief that the best way to reduce the spread of the virus is to keep your hands clean and sanitised, wear a face mask in public and maintain a safe distance between yourself and others.

This year, we have gained a much higher awareness of the things we touch, whether it’s a shopping trolley, money or a door handle. We have also learned to risk assess our everyday surroundings, and social distancing and wearing a mask has become a habit for many.

However, day-to-day life has and will continue to be impacted by the virus. Returning to work, mixing with crowds or even seeing friends can seem daunting for those who have spent most of the year isolating. This raises the question – are employers and other establishments doing enough to support their employees and customers?

Are employers doing enough to keep the work environment safe?

To help you make your business a safe environment for employees, The Governments Health & Safety Executive (HSE) devised a Coronavirus Risk Assessment which identifies potential safety problems arising due to the pandemic and how they can be overcome.

One point included is “Mental health and wellbeing affected through isolation or anxiety about coronavirus”. Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about going back to ‘normal’. Walking into a building after a few weeks or months and seeing nothing has changed can be very daunting for employees.

Before the first national lockdown ended, a study carried out by CIPD on 1000 working adults revealed that 44% of them were anxious about returning to work due to the potential risk of catching the virus.

Since then, a study carried out by Slater and Gordon, employment law specialists, uncovered that 46% of key workers have whistle blown on their employers for unsafe practices during the pandemic. With concerns ranging from lack of PPE, no social distancing measures in place or people being forced to return to work even if they are classed as vulnerable.

With the news that local councils will have the power to close businesses if they are not COVID-secure, it is vital to ensure your employees feel safe at work. These powers include an order for immediate action to be taken, closures for up to a week and fines if no action is taken.

What measures can be put in place to make a COVID-secure environment?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Fireco has been helping many businesses stay safe, reduce cross-contamination and improve hygiene with our simple germ control solutions.

Our Germgard Smart Sanitising Station is a portable hygiene stand that encourages the use of hand sanitiser to all building users. It uses an infrared sensor and digital signage to capture the attention of the passer-by and ask them to sanitise their hands, which in turn will reduce cross-contamination on surfaces.

The digital signage is customisable and can be used as a building management tool, for example, you can advise staff to use your one-way system or to take their temperature when signing in.

The Germgard station is a portable device, so you can move it to the location that best suits your building, all it needs is a plug socket nearby.

Germgard helps you provide visual evidence that your company is taking adequate measures to keep your premises COVID-secure and will reassure your employees that they are safe in their work environment.

For more information about Germgard or other ways we can help with your COVID-secure strategy, visit our website www.fireco.uk or call us on 01273 320650.

 

Zip Water launches innovative drinking water solution for new era of touch-free workplaces

With employers searching to create COVID-secure workplaces for staff to return to work safely, Zip Water have created the HydroTap Touch Free Wave; a contactless drinking water solution that delivers instant filtered boiling, chilled and sparkling water.

Reduce contact points in the workplace 

Available in the UK from December, the new Zip HydroTap Touch Free Wave is a 100% contactless drinking water solution and is the latest innovation in the flagship HydroTap range. With health and hygiene now an absolute priority in the workplace, the Zip HydroTap Touch Free Wave allows employees to stay hydrated and healthy, while avoiding surface contact to minimise the risk of virus transmission.

Smart infrared sensors detect hand movements when in a 1.5 – 5cm range of the tap, with water flow stopping immediately once the hand is moved away. The tap also features a contactless safety lock for the delivery of boiling water. Boiling water is only dispensed once two of the four sensors are engaged, activated by cupping a hand around the back of the tap.

New innovation for a changing world

Victoria Himsworth, Head of Marketing, explains that Zip HydroTap Touch Free Wave was developed as an immediate response to new emerging needs in the UK and global marketplace.

“We’re proud of how quickly we have been able to respond and deliver a market-leading solution to an urgent real-world problem. Businesses must do everything possible to improve hygiene and cleanliness in the workplace, following the latest Health and Safety Executive guidelines, in scenarios where employees cannot work from home. With the average person touching their face more than 20 times an hour, it’s possible to transfer viruses from everyday objects, such as handles and taps, to the mouth and eyes, and vice versa. Investing in the HydroTap Touch Free Wave encourages employees to keep hydrated, without the worry of cross-contamination.”

Find out more about the Zip HydroTap Touch Free Wave.

Creating COVID-safe and secure workplaces for your employees

By Oliver Morrison, CEO, Filter Digital

Now more than ever, employers are having to reassess their health and safety guidance for staff to ensure a safe and secure workplace for their employees. But how do you check your employees are well and reporting no symptoms of infectious diseases before they arrive for work?

Employers have a responsibility to keep their employees safe whilst at work. Many of us are used to conforming to company policy on wearing appropriate uniform and footwear, keeping walkways and access routes clear and following health and safety guidance whilst working on-site.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, it is now more than ever that employers are having to reassess their health and safety guidance for staff to ensure a safe and secure workplace for their employees.

Employers across all sectors and industries are introducing several new measures to protect their staff and to minimise risk. New office layouts, protective screens, floor graphics, one-way walkways, hand sanitising and the introduction of new Personal Protective Equipment have become commonplace.

Whilst employers can control, to an extent, what safety measures they introduce and how they implement them, empowering employees to follow them correctly and safely is paramount. Clear communication across a business is crucial to ensure everyone on-site is following the health and safety guidelines and rules.

With the spread of infectious diseases at the forefront of the implementation of enhanced measures within the workplace, there is a real need to ensure that employees are symptom-free before they enter a place of work. Whilst employers are doing all they can to ensure staff are safe at work, until now, there has been no mechanism to check staff are safe to come into work.

Safety at the workplace is paramount, and simple additional measures before reaching the workplace, such as regular communication, wellness checks, symptom reporting, records of travel or of interaction with people that have contracted COVID-19, are integral to overall safeguarding.

We’ve also collated some simple questions that can be used to regularly to check-in on employee wellbeing, to support effective and safe working.

Workspace

  • Are you comfortable in your physical workplace?
  • Do you have all of the equipment/supplies that you need to complete your work?
  • Is your working environment causing you any stress?
  • Is working from home negatively affecting your productivity?

Satisfaction

  • Are you receiving the right amount of communication?
  • Are you happy with the amount of recognition you receive for your work?
  • Do you feel recognition is meaningful when you receive it?
  • Are you feeling useful at work?
  • Do you ever feel anxious at work?

Team

  • Do you feel you can share your thoughts with your manager?
  • Do you feel you are positively encouraged to give your opinion?
  • Can you count on your colleagues when you need help?
  • Do you feel your colleagues collaborate well?

Health

  • Are you satisfied with your physical health?
  • Are you following a regular exercise or training regime?
  • Do you try to eat a healthy diet?
  • Do you feel healthy?
  • Would you be interested in having access to mental health resources at work? (such as meditation sessions, mindfulness classes etc.)

About The Author

Oliver Morrison is CEO at Filter Digital, developer of the The Safe For Work app, which provides a quick and easy way to check employees are well and reporting no symptoms of infectious diseases.

Construction industry urged to apply COVID learnings to ‘new normal’

Balfour Beatty, GKR Scaffolding, Kier, Mace, Morgan Sindall and Skanska have published an independent industry research report into COVID-19, that stresses the importance of carrying pandemic learnings in construction beyond the crisis.

The independent report, “COVID-19 and construction: Early lessons for a new normal?”, based on research conducted by Loughborough University experts into six UK major construction schemes, explores the industry’s health and safety response to the COVID-19 pandemic and potential medium to long-term benefits arising from extending and embedding these new working practices.

The report demonstrates how the changes made during the pandemic reflect a phenomenal effort by site staff, frontline workers and occupational health and safety professionals to adapt safely and efficiently to the rapidly evolving situation.

The research identified that, despite overall site productivity being negatively impacted due to social distancing requirements, individual and team effectiveness and productivity had increased for a number of reasons including better and more detailed task planning, reduced waiting time between tasks, increased space and therefore less “overlap” of trades, a boost in the use of technological solutions, more responsibility for individuals and less meetings.

The research also explored the effects of working from home and found that, notwithstanding the cost, flexibility and productivity benefits, making this a permanent solution could have a negative impact on employees with a rise in social isolation and uncertainty of expectations.

Whilst new approaches have been adopted in response to COVID-19, the report presents several recommendations that should be taken before these approaches can become truly embedded into the industry’s ways of working. In doing so, the industry can make substantial, lasting and transformative changes to working practices, productivity and efficiency.

Russell Adfield, The Health and Safety Executive’s Head of Construction Sector and Policy, said: “This industry-led report highlights the significance of having Construction, Design and Management regulations (CDM 2015) – to ensure effective communication, co-operation and co-ordination of workplace practices to both protect workers from risk and allow projects to advance, even in the most difficult of times.

“Involving workers and the supply chain in planning and designing the work is an essential component in developing trust and achieving positive behaviour which will ensure the industry continues to play a critical role in stimulating the economy as we respond to COVID-19.

“With health, safety and wellbeing at the heart of what all companies do, it is clear that the learnings from COVID-19 should extend beyond the lockdown period and shape the whole industry for the better.”

To read the report in full, please click here.

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