Practical considerations of returning to work

At Inflexion, we are committed to sharing best practice across our portfolio, meaning the companies we partner with can benefit from hearing about others’ experiences as well as draw on the resource from our Network of experienced professionals across the globe.

Risk management is front of mind for businesses and people alike right now, with the forthcoming return to work requiring employers to reassess their health and safety measures. 

“The health crisis will come under control eventually, however we will continue to face economic challenge well beyond the restrictions”. Says Alyn Franklin, CEO of Alcumus, a provider of technology-enabled business assurance and compliance risk management solutions. He continues, “companies need to do what they can within government guidelines to try and survive and then thrive.”

Alcumus has put together a COVID-19-specific system and support service to help businesses navigate the coming weeks and months, and shares some of its considerations with Inflexion.

Supporting employees outside the workplace

A number of businesses initially shut down whilst trying to understand the implications of the Government’s COVID-19 guidelines. As businesses gear up for return to work, some pressing queries now front of minds include how do I deal with employees too fearful to return to work? And am I responsible for the welfare of staff on public transport? Alcumus provides support for businesses in dealing with these types of questions and employment issues, with a range of applications and tools on the Alcumus platform.

Employee Health Risk Assessment

Health risk assessments provide valuable data about employees, particularly to help understand who needs wellbeing support. The data provides insight real-time information on who needs shielding, and who needs to self-isolate but can carry on working.

Furlough Tracker  

The furlough scheme has enabled many companies to provide a level of security to their employees. The platform has a tracker to monitor start and end dates for furlough, rotation of employees and is easy to keep updated as and when the scheme is extended. This will also be helpful as businesses start to reintegrate people back into the workplace.

Homeworker wellbeing

We have included a wellbeing questionnaire which gives great insight into how people are adapting to their new homeworking situation. We have used the questionnaire internally and it has given us feedback on how well we are communicating with our employees. The questionnaire helps us to look after our employees as a whole and individually.

Return to work

Returning to the workplace is critical. We need employees to be safe and, importantly, to feel safe. We know adjustments will be necessary in almost every workplace, and are working with a range of scenarios which are changing daily. What companies should look to do:

  • Complete return to work inspections This is no longer confined to the office itself, but also the parking lot and social distancing there, as well as employees’ commute to work, as you need to ensure they arrive safely.
  • Complete a risk assessment – this may be different to pre COVID-19. New considerations may be considering the use of lifts, how canteens are utilised, the ventilation systems in place within the office building. The range of scenarios will vary by company, and may continue to change.
  • Action plan implementation – This will depend on findings from the risk assessment, but may mean amending shift patterns to enable staff to avoid rush hour, may mean creating two-meter-wide walkways, separating desks within the office, etc.
  • Communicate your plan – ensure staff are aware of changes and why they are being implemented. It is for their safety, and it is important they understand that.
  • Review and monitor – how is it working and how, if at all, and are guidelines evolving?


Most commercial and many domestic cleaning products can damage skin and cause breathing problems. Most ill-health affects from cleaning products will be chronic; and they might not affect us until later in life. The COSHH regulations (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) are relevant for cleaning work places for return to work owing to the chemicals involved, whether for specialist cleaning staff undertaking a deep clean of the entire office, or for employees cleaning their desks when they start and again before they leave.

The protective equipment you use to protect against COVID-19 won’t necessarily be the same as what you need to protect yourself from cleaning agents, and so determining a way to safely clean premises is paramount.

Business continuity planning

No one could have expected there could be such an event with such a widespread, global impact. It has shown that many companies weren’t sufficiently prepared. If we knew, would we have a better outcome for our businesses? At this time, it is important to bank your successes and lock them in, and look at your mistakes and learn from them. Whether you have another pandemic or a local flood, you need a robust platform to manage your business on.

Alcumus aims to make organisations safer, healthier, and stronger and has devised solutions to help businesses battle through this period. Alcumus serve around 40,000 clients in the UK and North America, including Disney, Network Rail and British Petroleum.  Inflexion backed the £92 million buyout of Alcumus in 2015 and has since gone on to support organic and acquisitive growth, including the transformational acquisition of Santia weeks after the initial partnership.