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How businesses can ‘get back to work’ safely during COVID-19

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Pimlico Plumbers boss, Charlie Mullins reflects on the firms that are able to go back to ‘business as usual’ at least in part, despite the ongoing spread of coronavirus…

Alongside the millions of firms that are operating remotely during the lockdown, and those like Pimlico, that are able to carry on, to a certain degree, as normal, we are starting to see signs of companies taking the first steps to getting back to work.

The businesses that are reopening

In the last few days, we have seen B&Q start to reopen its stores, operating the same social distancing protocols that we have all experienced at supermarkets in recent weeks.

Some of the big housebuilding companies like Taylor Wimpey will be starting to build again shortly and car firms such as Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin and Nissan are preparing to resume production.

These are positive signs for the economy, and will help start to get the wheels turning again. It has to be said however, that none of this should be at the detriment of the battle against COVID-19, which is by no means close to ending.

The way we live and work will be quite different from what we are used to. The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said during one of the recent government daily press conferences that social distancing will need to be in place for ‘some considerable time’.

And if that is the case, the country, and its business community have to be able to adapt. The health of the nation is, undoubtedly, the first priority, but having an active economy filled with businesses that create employment, follows a close second.

Operating in a compliant way

We know the lockdown as it is now cannot continue for the long term and there are reports that the pandemic has reached its peak. At the same time, we can’t risk ruining the hard work we have all put in to stop the virus spreading further.

Therefore, we have to adapt and evolve, which is something entrepreneurial businesses in the UK have been doing for generations.

As a business that provides an essential service from workers that cannot work from home, we changed quickly; emergencies spur innovation, and we implemented new ways of working that would keep our people and customers safe, as the majority of the time the only way we can carry out our work is to enter their homes. We will continue to apply these processes for the foreseeable future as we return to providing more than emergency call out jobs.

Other companies will also be looking to get back to working in people’s homes and business premises. Some will, of course, not follow the guidelines as they should.

There is a scheme introduced by the Australian government for healthcare workers where they complete an online training module and receive certification to demonstrate the are competent at social distancing and virus control measure, which could well be adapted and applied in the UK for tradespeople and other professions.

We have to continue to take social distancing extremely seriously, but there are ways to get the economy going again in a responsible way. Having a government-backed certificate may sound bureaucratic, but it’s a good way to provide a uniform approach to business-related social distancing to ensure people remain protected.

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