Tiffany Wright: How can employers help staff feel safe now Covid restrictions have been lifted?

When Volkswagen Financial Services (UK) moved to a fully remote workforce in March 2020, we responded swiftly to support our colleagues through this period of uncertainty, equipping them with tools, techniques and tips to adapt to life working from home.

Throughout the pandemic, we have always put our colleagues’ health and safety first; introducing safety measures such as one-way systems, social distancing, mandatory mask wearing and an internal tracing system to ensure the reduced onsite workforce felt comfortable and safe at all times. We have consulted with our employee forum on all changes to safety measures throughout to allow the opportunity for challenge if they felt there was more we should do.

We adopted a cautious approach returning to the office, delaying a full return until case numbers were under control. We launched our hybrid-working pilot in October 2021, empowering colleagues to define where and how they work, balanced with meeting the needs of the business.

While restrictions have now been lifted, we encourage everyone to stay at home if they feel unwell, or if another member of household tests positive; going above the government guidance. Along with daily cleaning of communal and high traffic areas and weekly deep cleansing of desks, we have asked colleagues to clean down desks, chairs, IT equipment as part of their daily routine.

It is important to us and our board of management to continue to engage with colleagues and provide channels to ask questions or share concerns.

We are supportive of colleagues who wish to continue wearing masks, or maintain social distance and it was crucial to highlight this in our company-wide communications; we all have different and valid feelings about the lifting of restrictions and promote respect for others’ preferences as we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic.

Tiffany Wright is reward and benefits manager at Volkswagen Financial Services UK