Covid and in-person working
We need to continuously challenge ourselves to adopt approaches that meet the needs of all employees, wherever we can. The responsibility to act falls to all of us and, as always, this challenge should be demonstrated in a respectful, constructive manner, in line with our values.
We are a remote first organisation but we also understand the immense value of coming together from time-to-time to interact in person and collaborate.
Although it may seem like the pandemic is largely behind us, and for some being able to get out again and into the office has been really positive, this isn’t something that everyone has been able to do. The reality is that it is still very present in our lives and the lives of those we are close to.
It is difficult to try and meet the individual needs of all of our employees all of the time, but we do our best and will keep learning. We don’t have all the answers and we’re often in new territory. We’ve had lots of new starters, so it’s worth restating some of the measures we have put in place over the last couple of years, as we’ve continued to adjust to changing circumstances. These include:
- supporting home working and not requiring people to come into the office if they feel at all unsafe or at risk
- providing office spaces for people who want to come into work, by maintaining our Leeds HQ, providing hubs in London (we’ve recently upgraded the latter) and some personal workspaces elsewhere
- online all staff and other meetings and social events, together with reintroducing physical parties in the Summer and at Christmas for those who want to come along (and looking to make these gatherings as safe as we reasonably can)
- making sure that people take the time off they need when they have Covid by excluding those days from our sickness management policy (please note that this only applies to the days while a person is infectious; any post-infection symptoms requiring time off are covered by the regular sickness policy)
The situation continues to evolve and we’re seeing more and more people coming into the office and really benefiting from that. At the same time, we know this can have an impact on people who are not able to do this.
Unfortunately, we can’t eliminate the chance of catching Covid and there will always be an element of trust involved. Trust that we will be sensible, respectful and mindful of keeping each other safe. Here are some guiding principles which can help us all to do this:
There is no obligation to go into an office or on-site event if there is a risk to your physical or mental health. If you do not feel comfortable meeting up with colleagues in an office environment, just say no. We encourage you to share your needs with your line manager or the People team if it can help us support you in any way.
If you are going into the office or attending an in person work event, be empathetic and apply common sense.
- If you test positive for Covid under no circumstances should you go into the office.
- If you have any symptoms of Covid or any other airborne illness we strongly recommend working from home to reduce the risk to others, especially those who may be more vulnerable.
At this time, and in line with Government Guidance, we don’t mandate lateral flow tests for employees prior to coming into the office or attending an in person work event. We understand that lateral flow tests are not as accessible now that the risk to the majority of the population is reducing, coupled with the implementation of the vaccination programme. Although we don’t mandate testing we do encourage it, where feasible, to try and protect colleagues who may be more vulnerable. To help with this, we will shortly hold a stock of lateral flow tests in both our London and Leeds offices for employees to access. If you work remotely and would like to order a lateral flow test ahead of travelling to an in person work event, please contact the People team who can support you with this.
Similarly, there is no requirement to wear a mask when in the office or at an in person work event. Again, we encourage our employees to be open to doing so, especially if directly asked to by a colleague who may be at risk. We know that sometimes it may feel uncomfortable asking each other to do these things, and if you need any support in having these conversations, please speak to your line manager or a member of the People team. We will also make masks available in our Leeds and London offices for staff
We know that well ventilated areas also help to reduce the spread of Covid and other airborne diseases. If you have any questions on the layout or ventilation arrangements of an office or venue you may need to travel to for work, please ask Charlotte Kelsall. We may be limited in what we can do to change things in this area, but we can share any information we have to help employees make a more informed decision on attendance. We are also assessing the London and Leeds offices with a view to bringing in some HEPA filters, which will help to reduce the risk of transmission.
Most of our work is completed remotely, but the occasional in-person meeting can also bring a huge amount of value. The logistics of hybrid working can be complex but we should all look to make meetings as accessible as possible. This could be as simple as sharing information before, during or after the meeting.
If you have concerns or questions about any specific circumstances and how they impact you please speak to your line manager or a member of the People team. We can’t promise we can accommodate every situation, every time, but we will listen and try our best to help wherever possible.
We hope that the above information clarifies the current position on our approach to in person working. We will review it regularly to ensure that it is still relevant.
We will never be able to eliminate the chance of catching Covid, but hopefully by following the above principles and additional measures, employees will have a higher level of confidence in attending in-person gatherings.
As always, this is a work in progress, we’ll continue to listen, adapt, share and respect each other’s views and feelings.
Last updated: 18 July 2023 (history)