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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice, including help if you are struggling financially

Guidelines for office-based colleagues

Introduction 

UK Government have released guidance for employers, employees and the self-employed concerning “Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres”. Also sometimes referred to as “COVID-19 Secure”.  

The below information describes the set up and procedures we’re putting in place in our office spaces. It includes the procedures you’ll need to follow if you have a critical need to work from an office space during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

This information should be read in conjunction with the UK government guidance.  

Dorset Council has produced a COVID-19 risk assessment.

Which offices does this apply to? 

These guidelines apply to all office spaces.  

Where the office space is managed centrally the Assets, Estates and Facilities Management team will put the new set up in place. The centrally managed offices are:

  • County Hall (including East Annexe and South Annexe) 
  • South Walks House 
  • Dorchester Area Office 
  • Princes House 
  • The Old House, Monkton Park 
  • Nordon Lodge  
  • Ferndown Area Office 
  • Cedar House 
  • Allenview House 
  • Hanham Centre 
  • Purbeck Area Office 
  • Purbeck Centre
  • Westport House 
  • Stour View Area Office (including Horizons building) 
  • Weymouth Area Office 
  • Crookhill Depot Offices  

Please note that not all of the above offices are currently fully open.

Where offices are managed by services, the service will be responsible for putting the set up in place.  

Who will be working from an office? 

The UK Government state that “staff should work from home if at all possible”.  

Only those of you with a critical need to be working from an office, should be doing so. Managers have been asked to complete a spreadsheet identifying who in their team has a critical need to be working in an office space.  

Only those colleagues will be allocated a designated desk.  

It’s important to note that the new set up will be significantly different to what you’re familiar with before the COVID-19 pandemic.  

It will be possible to visit an office location if you haven’t been identified by your manager as requiring regular access, but need to carry out a business critical task which can’t be done at home; access to printing/photocopying/scanning, picking up a file, re-setting your IT device and so on. The process to follow is set out below.  Please note that these tasks should be carried out at your normal office location, rather than an operational building such as a Children’s Centre or similar. This is so we can manage the number of colleagues using different buildings to ensure social distancing.  

Working from home 

Look at our pages on working from home.  

Managers 

Managers are encouraged to discuss these guidelines will their teams, and in particular team members who have been identified as having a critical need to work from an office location.  

Managers should have a briefing session with any team members with protected characteristics, briefing them on the contents of this document, and asking whether there is anything else that needs consideration.  

Working in an office 

Listed below are the procedures you need to follow if you’re working in an office space. Where the set up of a specific office means local adjustments are required, we’ll inform colleagues of these.  

General  

  • You must continue to follow Public Health advice on infection control, hygiene and hand washing at all times. 
  • You must continue to adhere to the social distancing requirement of maintaining a gap of 2metres between yourself and others.   

  • With this in mind, you should be mindful of others especially in shared spaces.  

Windows 

Natural ventilation is very important, as such when you enter a space you should open the windows (and remember to close them when leaving the office). Windows need to be opened whatever the weather outdoors.  

Entrances and Exits 

  • where possible, one-way systems for entering and exiting buildings will be put in place, and these will be clearly signed
  • where one-way systems are not workable, colleagues should be mindful of others in the vicinity and adhere to the 2metre social distancing on entering and exiting buildings

  • colleagues should use the hand sanitiser installed by the door on entering the office   

Desks and Workstations  

  • to minimise risk of infection and transmission, workstations / desks have been assigned to individuals, and allocated based on 2metre social distancing  
  • you should not share your desk with anyone else

  • desks which have not been allocated to individuals should not be used

  • hot desking, open zone desks, touchdown desks and bookable desks are not be available

  • portable fans should not be used

Please see section below on ‘one off visits to the office’ if you have not been allocated a desk space but need to make an essential visit to the office.  

Communal Spaces 

  • tape will be used on the floor in communal areas to help colleagues maintain the 2m social distancing (e.g. by photocopiers etc.) 
  • lifts will be restricted to use by one person at a time. If you need to use the lift, you should use the hand sanitiser provided before and after use

  • where possible, one-way systems will be in place along corridors and in open plan spaces, and colleagues should adhere to these. Where the layout means this is not possible, colleagues should wait for others to exit an area before entering themselves  

  • movement around the office is discouraged

  • colleagues are required to be mindful of others in shared spaces (such as kitchens, toilets, shower facilities and photocopier areas). These spaces will operate on a ‘one out, one in’ procedure. You will need to wait in the designated waiting space (marked with tape) for others to leave the space before entering yourself

  • colleagues should limit their use of high touch point equipment, such as photocopiers, as much as possible. Hand sanitiser and/or cleaning kits will be provided next to photocopiers, and should be used before and after each use 

  • the café at County Hall will remain closed 

Meeting rooms and breakout spaces 

  • meeting rooms will not be available. All colleagues (including those in the office) should continue to make use of virtual tools for meetings (such as Microsoft Teams) 
  • outdoor meetings (where this is appropriate) are encouraged

  • furniture in breakout spaces has been reconfigured/removed to ensure social distancing.  

  • there are some very limited occasions in which certain teams have a requirement for confidential meeting space. Specific arrangements are being put in place to facilitate this  

PPE   

The UK government guidance states that additional PPE beyond that which is usually worn is not beneficial and not recommended for office locations.  

Face Coverings 

The UK government guidance explains that face coverings may be worn, but this is at the discretion of the individual. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms. You can make face-coverings at home and can find guidance on how to do this and use them safely on GOV.UK 

Travel 

  • communal pool cars will not be available

  • colleagues are encouraged to cycle or walk to and from the office where possible

  • payment for staff parking permits will continue to be suspended, and the barriers will remain up at County Hall (however, colleagues must adhere to the one-way system)  

Emergency Situations 

  • fire escape routes – If the alarm sounds you must still use the nearest and safest evacuation route. Do not go to the designated entrance/exit unless this is closest to you
  • fire assembly points must be attended if the fire alarm sounds and colleagues must not stand in the road just to maintain safe distancing

  • first aid measures are in place to protect the first aider and are deemed necessary to protect the injured person

  • Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS) should be reviewed by managers for any colleagues who require them to ensure that the controls identified within them can be maintained

Cleaning 

  • cleaners are undertaking additional cleaning of high touch point surfaces (such as handles, bannisters, etc) and high use areas since the beginning of lockdown, and will continue to do so

  • desk cleaning kits will continue to be available across the office estate

  • colleagues are required to clean their desk before and after use

  • you should continue to follow the clear desk policy (even though desks are assigned to individuals)

One-off visits to the office  

There are some instances in which colleagues may need to come to an office for a one-off visit (for example to do some essential printing/scanning, pick up a file, reset your device etc.).  

This is still possible, (managed access procedures must be followed if they are in place, but social distancing must be adhered to, and colleagues should only come to the office if absolutely necessary.  

Printing / scanning / photocopying 

In the case of a ‘one-off’ visit for printing, photocopying or scanning, a meeting room will be available for colleagues to undertake any set up/preparation, and any sorting afterwards. The meeting room will be clearly signed. If someone else is using the room please wait for them to exit before entering. Remember to open the windows whilst you are in the room (and close them on leaving). Clean the table using the cleaning kit before and after use.  

IT resets 

In the case of a ‘one-off’ visit for resetting your IT device, please use the desk indicated for this use. These desks will be clearly labelled. Clean the desk before and after use, using the desk cleaning kits provided.   

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