How the Romero Group returned to work safely

How our sound risk management structure has resulted in us being able to safely bring the majority of our employees back to Romero House.

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Our sound risk management structure has resulted in us being able to safely bring the majority of employees back to our Leeds HQ following the coronavirus pandemic.

But how have we achieved being able to safely bring our team back to work?

The Situation

The Romero team has been carefully monitoring government advice, gradually increasing the number of remote workers. Whilst the office was never fully closed, over 150 members of staff were working from home during the peak period of the pandemic.

Adjusting to the majority of our team working remotely was a challenge for all of us. Our IT Department were tasked with safely issuing equipment, ensuring cyber security measures were in place and data was secure. The risk management team jumped into action to develop home working risk assessments. Customers and partners were reassured there would be no interruption to our service – and there wasn’t.

Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our team, we were able to effectively work remotely and continue to deliver exceptional service.

However, we were keen to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and restore the status quo. We have seen entire industries struggle to adjust and survive due to strict lockdown measures and the government dictating what UK citizens can and can not do.

Whilst the safety of our people is and always has been our top priority, we had to be logical and rational about the risk coronavirus really posed to our business. With the help of our dedicated risk management team, we decided that it was safe for us to start bringing more people back into our offices.

Our Decision

Through detailed risk assessments and consultations with the Senior Leadership Team, we decided the risk to our employees was minimal. This does not include people who are at medium or high risk – they will remain working from home.

Poor hygiene and lack of information is most likely to cause coronavirus spread within the office. We developed a plan to overcome this by communicating guidance via email and displays, and by implementing additional hygiene and safety measures within the office.

Of course, keeping at the government advised two-metre distance is also imperative. Therefore, our risk management team put control measures in place to ensure the team could return to the office and still socially distance.

Following the risk assessment, our risk managers concluded that it was safe to return if these suitable control measures were put in place.

How we implemented a safe working environment

We worked closely with managers and individual employees to decide who may be most at risk or unable to return to the office. This includes those who are shielding, classed as high or moderate risk, have childcare issues and have or live with someone with COVID-19 symptoms.

This gave us an accurate idea of the number of people able and willing to return to the office. We also put the following safe office procedures in place:

  • Social distancing

From only using certain desks through to limiting the number of people using communal areas, we made sure we are always able to maintain social distancing

  • PPE

Staff members who wish to use facemasks and gloves can do so

  • Temperature checks

Staff are encouraged to take their temperature before work, though a thermometer is also on site

  • Minimising touch points

Internal doors are always kept open

  • Enhanced cleaning

The office has been deep cleaned, and there are more frequent office cleaning and tidying regimes in place. Computer and phone disinfectant is also available

  • Toilet facilities

All toilets are stocked-up with soap and bacterial wipes

  • Kitchen facilities

Kitchens are frequently cleaned and disinfected. Staff are also instructed to put all used crockery straight into the dishwasher

  • Meetings and visitors

There will be minimal external visitors invited into the office. Instead, we will continue to use technology to host group meetings. Any visitors coming into the office will be subject to a questionnaire.

  • Hand sanitiser

All employees must use the dedicated hand sanitiser station on entry and exit. There are also hand sanitising stations on every floor of the building

Of course, our safety measures are communicated thoroughly and consistently with all employees. All staff emails containing safe office procedures have been sent, while all documentation and advice is shared on our servers for the team to access at any time. When returning to the office, employees are asked to sign a form confirming they understand and will adhere to our new procedures.

There are also laminated displays throughout the office advising employees on social distancing measures and hygiene etiquette. From weekly business updates through to wellbeing webinars, we have ensured our people have always come first – through lockdown and beyond.

Bringing teams back together again

Working in a physical environment alongside colleagues has numerous benefits. But one main consideration is the positive impact on mental health.

Isolation has been tough for many people, particularly those who live alone. Achieving the same levels of productivity while working from home in a potentially not conducive environment just isn’t possible for some. And feeling motivated and engaged throughout the day has a big impact on our mental wellbeing. Being part of a team and encouraging one another is invaluable to our social and mental health. A Zoom call just isn’t the same.

Prior to returning to the offices, the Romero Group’s wellbeing brand We Are Wellbeing sent out an insights survey to gauge how the team was feeling. It was a mixed bag, with some employees looking forward to being part of the bustling office environment once more, and others more tentative. Taking anxieties into account and answering key concerns was important, and our employees were advised to speak to their line manager or Wellbeing Champion to discuss individual circumstances.

We anticipate our team’s mental health to improve overall as we get back into a healthy working routine and connect with one another. We’re able to kick-start wellbeing activities such as lunchtime walks and Pilates classes (socially distanced, of course). And we’re able to brainstorm, hold face to face meetings and thrive within the positive workplace culture we’ve worked so hard to create. This can only be a wonderful move towards looking after the mental health of our team.

The future of the Romero Group

We understand the coronavirus pandemic is likely to linger for many months and possibly into 2021. It is an evolving issue and one we will continue to monitor as a business.

As the economy begins to reawaken and our customers get going again, we look forward to standing by their side and supporting them. Our team are ready and raring to face the new normal, whilst we endeavour to keep things here at the Romero Group as unaffected as possible.

We firmly believe that there is a fine line between safety and rationality – and we have worked hard to meticulously balance the two.

Looking to improve your risk management procedures? Get in touch with the Romero team!

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