This is a new page. Your feedback will help us improve it.

Working in the office

After several months of remote working for many of us, where required, some staff can now work from the office for operational and service need reasons or because they have found working from home difficult.

To understand more about this please read the Brief from the Chief below.

Brief from the Chief from Caroline Lacey, Chief Executive

28 August

Dear colleagues

With lockdown measures continuing to ease, the country is moving into a new phase with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new phase has more of a focus on reopening the economy and trying to return society to something that resembles normality.

However, achieving this requires everyone to play their part including adhering to public health advice around social distancing, sanitising hands regularly and wearing face coverings. It will also require a more localised approach to handling outbreaks of coronavirus and that is why the council has devised and launched its own local outbreak management plan. Find out more about our local outbreak management plan, including the 3 Steps To Safety.

What does this mean for the council in terms of our work going forward? Well, after several months of remote working for many of us, it does mean that we can bring some office-based staff back into our buildings.

However, before I get into the detail of this, I'd like to again take the opportunity to thank our entire workforce for their hard work and dedication over the past six months.

As well as those staff working remotely, frontline staff have also played a key role in our response to COVID-19 and have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic - both in the community and at many of our buildings that, for operational reasons, have remained open throughout the pandemic.

Your efforts have meant that we have been able to continue delivering vital services to our residents, businesses and communities and, most importantly, support and protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society. As chief executive and on behalf of CMT, SMT and our elected members - thank you!

We must all remember that the pandemic is NOT over, and the threat of COVID-19 remains. The health and wellbeing of both staff and our residents remains this council's top priority.

With that in mind, we have begun a phased approach in bringing some office-based staff back to our buildings. It is important to stress that there is NOT a deadline and we are NOT expecting all staff to return. Indeed, this will not be possible. We will have reduced occupancy of our buildings in order to ensure they remain COVID-secure and promote a safe environment.

Staff may return either for operational reasons and service need or because they have found working remotely difficult for specific reasons.

If staff working in an office-based role are able to continue working effectively, remotely or from home, and if there are no individual reasons as to why this is proving to be difficult, I am happy for this to continue for the foreseeable future and I would encourage it.

However, it is important that this is discussed and agreed with line managers to ensure the needs of the service area continue to be met.

Managers have an important role to play in facilitating the discussions on staff returning to the office and I would encourage them to take a proactive approach in their conversations with staff and identify the solution that works best for them and the service area, whether that is returning to the office or continuing to work from home or indeed a mixture of both. This should then be communicated with group managers and agreed with the service area representative appointed for workplace reintroduction, so they can ensure a coordinated approach to staff returning and ensure offices and buildings do not exceed the determined occupancy levels.

Each member of staff returning to our buildings must undertake the following before they can come back:

  • watch the informational video on returning to the workplace
  • complete the passport to work e-form - there will also be the option of undertaking an individual risk assessment, please speak with your line manager about this.

These are located on the intranet here.

There is also a frequently asked questions section below.

Staff should also familiarise and understand the safe systems of work that have been put in place to make buildings COVID-secure.

Planning the return of staff to our buildings has been a huge undertaking and was coordinated by a group chaired by Ian Burnett, head of asset strategy. A lot of work has been done, including:

  • putting in place fire and first aid provision
  • establishing safe systems to support social distancing, such as the introduction of one-way systems
  • increased cleaning regimes
  • determining safe office and building occupancy levels
  • the use of shared spaces, such as kitchens and toilets.

It is also recommended that staff wear face coverings in office buildings (unless exempt) where social distancing may be difficult and where they will come into contact with people they do not normally meet, such as when entering and leaving a building and when walking around a building.

You do NOT have to wear a face covering while at your desk or in your own office.

This advice is based on guidance from Public Health England and the council's public health team, but it is for individual members of staff to act on this if they wish to do so.

External visitors will be able to visit our buildings as well, but this should be kept to an absolute minimum and should only happen after all other alternatives have been considered, such as the use of Microsoft Teams. A visitor will also need to follow all public health guidelines and a protocol for visitors will be made available on the intranet.

Our main buildings, County Hall, Bridlington Town Hall and the Goole Offices, have now been fitted with appropriate signage and floor markings to advise staff of the new systems in place and hand sanitiser stations have also been installed at various locations throughout the buildings.

Similar measures have also been put in place at all our buildings and have been determined by service areas in conjunction with safety services. It is important that all staff, regardless of where they are based, follow all public health guidance.

The past six months have been extremely challenging, and we will continue to provide up to date information as regularly as possible. My message today relates to our immediate working arrangements from September onwards. I know many staff are keen to hear about what plans we have for how we might work longer term, beyond the end of the pandemic, whenever that it. We are currently working on that and listening to staff and others. We will have more to say about this soon.

Finally, it leaves me to welcome back those staff who are returning to our buildings and, while it might be a small gesture, to acknowledge that the reopening of the doors at our offices and buildings will be hugely symbolic in this challenging chapter of history.

#TogetherEastRiding

I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Returning to the office

Having read the Brief from the Chief above, staff are also invited to listen to the interview with Darren Stevens, director of corporate resources, from I Heard It Through The Grapevine - the podcast for staff of East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

In the interview, Darren talks about what:

  • staff need to do before they return to the office
  • managers need to do before staff can return to the office
  • measures have been put in place to make office buildings COVID-secure

FAQs

Now that you have read the Brief from the Chief, and listened to the podcast, you may have some more questions.

We have tried to anticipate some of your questions below.

What is the overall message to staff?

We have begun a phased approach in bringing some office based staff back to our buildings.

It is important to stress that there is not a deadline and we are not expecting all staff to return at the moment.

Indeed, this will not be possible. We will have reduced occupancy of our buildings in order to ensure they remain COVID-secure and promote a safe environment.

Staff may return either for operational reasons and service need or because they have found working remotely difficult for specific reasons. If staff working in an office based role are able to continue working effectively, remotely or from home, and if there are no individual reasons as to why this is proving to be difficult, we are happy for this to continue for the foreseeable future and we would encourage it. However, it is important that this is discussed and agreed with line managers to ensure the needs of the service area continue to be met.

If I am to continue working from home, should I do a working from home self assessment?

If you have agreed with your line manager that you can continue to work from home, and you have not done one already, you should do a working from home self assessment.

What should I do if I am returning to the office?

Before you return to the office you need to discuss this with your line manager.

You must complete the Passport to Work form in conjunction with your line manager. This will confirm that you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and that you understand the new safety measures that have been put in place. In addition to this, all staff will be offered the opportunity of an individual risk assessment where you will have the opportunity to share any concerns that you have about your circumstances or personal characteristics so that the council is able to support you with your return. More information is available from your line manager or on the intranet.

What should I do if I am partly to work from the office, and partly from home, but the IT equipment that I currently have does not permit me to work from more than one location?

The council provides IT equipment which fully supports agile and remote working. If there is a new requirement this will need to be discussed with your line manager.

I have IT issues that are affecting my ability to work. What should I do?

If you have a fault with a council device please log the issue on the IT Service Desk, in the normal manner. If the issue is not related to a fault with a council device, please discuss it with your line manager.

What is the position on wearing face coverings in the workplace?

Following advice from Public Health England and the Public Health Team within the council, staff are recommended to wear face coverings in council offices where social distancing may be difficult and where they will come into contact with people they do not normally meet, such as when entering and leaving a building and when travelling around a building.

What measures has the Council taken to make sure workplaces are COVID-Secure?

Detailed planning has been undertaken and is ongoing to ensure that council premises are classed as COVID-secure. This has involved a number of initiatives including:

  • establishment of a Workplace Re-introduction Planning Group
  • nomination of service area representatives to oversee a safe return to work
  • preparation of safe systems of work
  • implementation of social distancing in the workplace
  • detailed occupancy plans for work premises
  • production of a return to work video presentation for employees
  • preparation of a Passport to Work to be undertaken by all staff prior to returning to work
  • preparation of premises based risk assessments
  • the opportunity for all staff to have an individual risk assessment
  • development of a visitors registration form
  • safety officers have physically visited all our publically accessible buildings.
I work in County Hall, will The Point be open?

Initially, The Point will not be serving food but vending machines will be available to purchase hot drinks.

Will the front door of County Hall be open?

The reception area of County Hall is due to open when COVID-secure measures are completed. Measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

Can we have external visitors?

Yes, but these should be kept to a minimum and other options such as a Microsoft Teams call should be considered first. You need to get authorisation from your manager and head of service and complete a registration of external visitors form.

Make sure you follow the steps and guidance on our visitors to council offices page.

Can we book meeting rooms?

Meeting rooms are not available to book at the present time. Once measures have been put in place to allow for the safe use of meeting rooms their maximum capacity will be indicated on each room and a central booking system will be available.

.

Share your views

Whether you like this new page or there's something not quite right - please let us know!