Raminder Grewal: Occupational health support for an isolated workforce

Raminder Grewal: Occupational health support for an isolated workforce

This month, our offices expanded. From a handful of central locations in our big cities, we have spread to hundreds of small offices around the UK, in bedrooms, empty lofts and on converted kitchen tables.

For many, this means comfortable sweatshirts in place of suits and transforming an hour-long commute on a tightly packed train to a walk of just a few steps. The challenge when adapting to the changes of social isolation is more than just internet speeds and sourcing a second screen; it is also about ensuring the mental and physical health of staff.

Like many large organisations, Slater and Gordon has a number of staff off on long-term sick leave, currently supported by an occupational health team. During this period, we have ensured our external providers continue phone assessments and keep in touch with the mental and physical needs of these staff.

What lies ahead is the transition to social distancing for all of us, but ensuring support for the most isolated in our workforce is a priority. For other staff on long-term sick leave, this move to working from home offers an opportunity. Now the business is almost completely remote, it means those able to work but physically prevented from accessing an office can return to their roles.

Occupational health resources should be extended to general staff as well. Since the pandemic began, Slater and Gordon has shared resources across its intranet, including webinars and advice. This week, we will release a working from home guide. The guide includes health and wellbeing resources to help employees create a routine as part of this ‘new normal’ and support their mental and physical health. We have always offered an independent employee support line, including a telephone counselling service, which will continue and be promoted throughout this period.

For the coming weeks and months, we may be alone in our homes, but we are not alone. For us, the family created within our business remains strong and putting in place occupational health resources to look after all staff is central to our success.

Raminder Grewal is HR director at Slater and Gordon