The end of remote work?  Businesses need to prepare

Team collaboration, integration of new employees, spurring greater creativity and innovation, but also the need to pay for unused office space – these are just a few of the arguments behind the decision to bring employees back into offices. On the other hand, in the midst of preparations – new office arrangements or organizing integration meetings – it is also necessary to properly prepare for the return of employees from the official side and work safety in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

– The start of remote work must be preceded by an order from the employer that sets out the basic issues, such as the place of work and the time of its implementation, as well as the scope and form of activities. Most importantly, it should also contain information about the possibility of withdrawing remote work. Of course, due to the unforeseen period of the pandemic, the employer has the option of repeated orders and remote work interruptions – for example in the event of needing to perform duties that require being in a fixed workplace – said Magdalena Fastowska, an expert in occupational safety consultancy W&W.

– However, if the company has already made a decision about the team’s return to stationary work, it must inform employees of the withdrawal of the remote work order and provide basic information and instructions about returning to the office. She added that the ideal solution is to conduct such communication via e-mail, because there is no legal need to create official letters in this area.

Companies that decide to return to work in a pre-pandemic format must include a number of measures aimed at ensuring the safety of employees as part of their preparatory activities. Its implementation is not only concerned with the health of employees and ensuring business continuity, but is regulated by the regulations currently in force. For example, according to Cabinet Regulation of June 11, 2021, Clause 1054 – Masks must be worn in workplaces if there is more than one person in the room.

– On the other hand, what is important is that the employer may voluntarily regulate the issue of the obligation to wear masks, and based on his decision, this matter may be raised within the company. However, it is necessary to wear masks when providing direct service to the customer or stakeholders. It happens that the basis for the decision not to wear masks is information about the fact that employees have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Currently, companies cannot request such information – employees can provide it voluntarily when the employer requests it. As announced, the topic of voluntary notification of the employer about vaccination may soon change, by regulating this issue in the relevant legal provisions – the expert adds.

In connection with the announced fourth wave of the pandemic and in connection with the observed increases in COVID-19 infections, employers must implement key safety rules and, most importantly, adequately instruct employees on the need to comply with them. With reference to the regulations currently in force, the Basic Principles apply to:

– Work stations – they must be organized so that the distance is not less than 1.5 meters. This distance also applies when using public areas, such as the canteen.

– Disinfection of hands – containers with a disinfectant liquid should be placed in the entrance and exit area and in the social rooms. In addition, hand-washing instructions should be posted in sinks and sinks, and employees instructed to wash their hands before work begins – immediately upon arrival.

Office broadcasts – whenever possible.

Workplace cleanliness Ensure that the workplace is clean and hygienic, and also remember to disinfect touch surfaces, such as the telephone, keyboard, mouse, light switches and desks.

– In companies where possible – Limit the presence of non-employees. Each guest must wear a protective mask, and the visit must take place at a safe distance between the employee and the customer or contractor.

– You must also inform all employees returning to established work that if they develop symptoms of illness or come into contact with a person who has clearly developed symptoms or has been exposed to an infected person, is in isolation or in quarantine – they should not come to a company. However, they must contact the employer, report such a case and follow the guidelines of the medical and health services – concludes Włastowska.

* Source: ING Financial Barometer

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