"It’s been 6 months since we first asked our teams to work from home, about a week before the official lockdown measures started. Back then we thought we’d working remotely for a few weeks but as it was all happening quickly there wasn’t much time to tidy up as our focus was on making sure people could work remotely effectively.
Our lovely office, which we moved into 3 years ago, suddenly sat empty.
Scroll forward a few months to mid-summer and we saw sight of the Covid Secure guidance for offices. As a retailer selling health and essential products our stores and distribution centres remained open throughout the pandemic so we had an idea of how the guidelines would work for us. We began the task of getting the office ready for occupation once more
We spent time measuring every seat to work out our capacity, with and without screening. We calculated we can get 230 people back with minimal screening, that’s the easy bit! Then came all the ‘okay but how?’ questions; How do we check people in and keep a record? How do we get 230 people in the building and to their desks on 5 different floors without queues in communal spaces? What does an effective one-way system around the building look like? How do we get people to the on-site café and what will this offer look like? How do we reduce equipment sharing when only set desks will be available? How can we reduce all the touch points in the office to the absolute minimum? And how do we keep it tidy so we can clean it to the highest standards every night?
In total we had over 250 points and areas to consider on what fast became our infamous post it note wall!
There were a few areas that we all knew were really important to us as a business. We wanted to make sure we’d put ourselves in the shoes of any clinically extremely vulnerable person in our teams and how we could make it as safe as possible for them. And we wanted it to be comfortable - we wanted to avoid overly prescriptive posters and taped areas of the office.This is our second home, we spend a lot of time here and when we opened a lot of effort went into making it into a comfortable, as well as safe, environment.
With these key goals in mind we set to work. There were all kinds of calls where we tracked down the owners of the miscellaneous items left around the office (even an abandoned shoe collection managed to find its owner!). Our IT colleagues partnered with Microsoft on a Teams app integrated booking system and sourced Bluetooth keyboards while our Property colleagues designed the right minimal screening for our office. The team at Printwell helped us with our posters, banners, desk stickers and floor signage and our fantastic facilities team had the office looking good (and Covid secure!) in no time. Meanwhile, our People team surveyed our teams and ensured all communication around office returns was clear and easy to understand. All of this alongside the day job of supporting 800 Superdrug Stores and those in our sister business Savers, as well as providing an enhanced service for our remote workers to ensure they didn’t have to travel to the office for tasks like printing, photocopying, scanning and post. No mean feat!
As we headed into August, we had a core group of individuals working from the office, who we worked with to test all the processes and ensure we got everything right before inviting our next group of employees back in. On 7th September we opened our doors to 150 people, the next step on our journey to the 230 capacity number.
So that brings us to now. When our teams walk in on their first day back they are greeted with lots of welcome back signage and our concierge team who are more than pleased to see our teams again. Everyone is scanned in using a QR code system that links to the booking they’ve made for that day. All team members will receive a welcome back pack that contains their own mini supply of everything they might need back in the office, alongside a new Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, a door opener hook, and fresh lanyard. In an added measure to ensure everyone is comfortable with coming back into the office, our team members have been provided with colour coded wrist bands (red, yellow and green) which signify to others how much space they will need. If you wear a red wristband for instance, people will go above and beyond to give you over a 2 metre berth, you can ride the lift on your own, and people can avoid asking you into a meeting room. These have been a great initiative as our team members can chance how they feel each day, and it’s an instant signifier to those around you how you would like to interact.
We are currently at limited capacity, with our team members working at home for at least 50% of their time so our IT team developed our Stronger TEAgether matching app (a play on our Stronger Together messaging we’ve run throughout Lockdown) Each week the app pairs you randomly with someone else in the business for a cup of tea over a video chat, meaning that we still keep connected - particularly useful for those who are new and have joined us during lockdown.
And for those who prefer coffee, we’ve also tried to think about how we can partner locally so this week we’re starting to serve Mr Tinto coffee in our café. Meaning that those who aren’t comfortable to go out during their breaks are still able to get their coffee hit and we’re able to support our local businesses.
We’re conscious that these are unprecedented times, and that some people may not yet feel completely comfortable with being back in an office environment. We have worked hard over the last few months to implement as many safety measures as possible, and hope that people feel safe and comfortable in our offices as we begin to adapt to the new normal over the coming months.
Here are some pictures of our office so you can take a look for yourself at how we’ve implemented the Covid Secure guidance." (Attached PDF)