A Return to Work?

As the situation continues to change with lockdown measures and restrictions being eased, many organisations could now be faced with another new set of challenges but also hopefully some opportunities:

Safe staff/volunteers: these changes may bring a potential shift away from home working, which in turn requires organisations to consider a range of new precautions to support the safe return of staff and the possible re-integration of volunteers or recruitment of new volunteers. Government and health guidance must be followed at all times, but in some areas additional guidance and resources may have been developed. For example, CVS has produced resources to help support the safe return of volunteers and the recruitment of new (perhaps more virtual) volunteers, all of which can be found on our website: https://cumbriacvs.org.uk/coronavirus/covid-19-volunteering/

Furlough: since 1 July many organisations have had the opportunity for furloughed staff to return to work part time and/or full time. This change provides organisations with a great opportunity to implement a gradual return to work for staff (as appropriate) but the ongoing changes to the scheme (especially after 1 August) may also provide these organisations with extra challenges both financially, with the emphasis now moving towards more of the costs being passed to employers https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/changes-to-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/changes-to-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme and practically with re-integrating staff and the re-establishment of services.

Buildings: with employers being now able to start to help staff return to office spaces, organisations face new decisions and challenges in relation to staff (volunteer and client) safety. Firstly, does the organisation want to move away from home working either fully or partially? If so, how do they manage this transition and build on the developments made through the change to home working? Does everything continue to be delivered online (at least in the short term)? How can office spaces accommodate these changing needs?
Secondly, if there is a move towards some or all staff returning to the office (full or part time), organisations need to adhere to new covid specific guidance including the need to undertake a risk assessment on office spaces/buildings and putting mitigating measures in place to support this safe return to work. Full details are available on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres

For organisations responsible for community buildings, ACT has provided access to a range of resources to support the re-opening of village halls and community centres as additional support to current government guidance: http://www.cumbriaaction.org.uk/News-Events/News/community-buildings-coronavirus-covid-19-update-21-july-2020
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities

Like many other organisations, Cumbria CVS must also embrace these challenges and opportunities. We are trying to navigate them in a planned and considered manner and are making decisions based on the principle of safety first. We still have many obstacles to overcome but we are slowly “returning to work”.

Alison Phillips
Support Services Manager
Cumbria CVS