Making changes to your office to keep everyone safe

It’s an individual’s choice if they want to come to your office, but you’ve got to protect yourself, you’ve got to protect your family, and you’ve got to protect the staff and the clients. And I don’t think you can force them; it’s got to be their choice — if they want to come in and see you and they’re happy to do that and you’ve put all the necessary safety measures in place.

We’ve already done a health and safety check, a risk assessment, for both of the main premises, and for the Cheshire office, which has been open throughout, that has been ongoing with tape on the floor and all these types of things for social distancing. We’ve got all the staff members to sign to say that they’re happy with what we’re doing so that there’s no comeback later on.

The same will go for the main office that is gradually reopening — we will get the employees to sign to say they’re happy that we’ve taken the necessary measures for them to come back to work in a safe way.

It’s the same with clients:  getting them to sign to say they’re comfortable with what we’re doing and they agree with it and asking whether they want us to wear a mask or wear gloves. And vice versa, whether we want them to.

None of our staff, certainly none of our client-facing staff, are in the high-risk or the vulnerable category. So on the face of it, that’s fine, but nobody really knows whether you can pass this virus on asymptomatically to somebody who might be high-risk. I’ve got family members with asthma and things like that. So you are trying to keep everybody safe and just do the best that you can do. 

You’ve got people who are just not really that bothered about it, who are just kind of doing the minimum that they can do. And then you have people afraid to send the kids back to school, afraid to go back to work. Everybody’s experiences and risks for them and their family are different with this.

I don’t think you can do any more than that. I think you’ve got to be firm with the employees about what’s expected and that not everybody will have the same opinion as you. That you might be quite blase about it, but somebody might be really worried about it. And just because their concerns and your concerns are not the same, that doesn’t mean that they’re less warranted.

So I think you’ve just got to keep reminding people. We’ve had clients that have had it, and I know people who are friends of families of people I know who have died from COVID or with COVID, but unless you’ve actually had a personal experience with this, it’s all a bit surreal. It’s like something’s happening, but something’s not quite happening.

So I think you’ve got to have empathy for people and talk about what their concerns are and just implement whatever it is that helps them to feel safe. Hopefully a vaccine will come out and that will solve the problem. But if it doesn’t, this could be something we’ve got to live with for a very long time. So we’ve just got to adapt and do the best that we can all do.

Sarah Helen Hogan, ACII, is a four-year MDRT member from Leigh, United Kingdom. Hear more in the MDRT Podcast:

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