We are re-opening our offices fully for all staff from 1 September 2020.
This was announced at our six-monthly staff update on 13 August. People who wish to come back to the offices sooner are welcome to do so.
We have undertaken a detailed risk assessment, and implemented changes and control measures to the office operating processes. As a result, we believe our head office and regional offices are safe places to work.
You must not come into the office if you have symptoms. Please visit NHS.uk and arrange for a coronavirus test. Stay at home until you get the result, and follow the normal absence reporting process.
COVID-19 is still a risk and we ask that you do not become blasé about this. Please comply with our new operating processes, to minimise the possibility of having to close an office due to contamination.
Key changes to how the offices will operate:
Booking your desk – Canning Town and Cardinal House
Before you come into the office you must book your desk by 12:30 on the Friday before.
Hot desks must be booked for a minimum of one week. You may not use a desk which has been booked out that week, even if the person is not there.
For regional or serviced offices, please speak to the office manager for the processes for your office.
Managed offices will follow the procedures set out by the landlords.
The booking record makes it easy to see who has been in which part of the office over any particular period.
If anyone tests positive for COVID-19, the record will show who they may have been near for the two weeks before that test. Those people will need to self-isolate, as set out by NHS test and trace.
Booking a desk for a minimum of a week stops the risk of cross-contamination.
The office is cleaned on a Friday evening. If you use a desk, you must book it for the week to make sure no-one else uses it before it’s been cleaned.
- Go into MS Teams, and choose ‘Teams’.
- In the VGC Group team, select Cardinal House or Canning Town.
- In ‘Files’, open the booking spreadsheet.
- Click on the tab for your floor. Green means a desk which can be used – check your pod number and desk number.
- Then go to the Cardinal House bookings tab and find your desk and the date, then click on the drop-down to book.
Entering the building:
- Use the hand sanitiser every time you enter the building.
- Use the thermometer to take your temperature.
If it is over 38 degrees, please go outside, wait 10 minutes, and take your temperature again.
If it is still over 38 degrees, please do not come into the office. Go to the NHS website and seek medical advice. Please advise your line manager.
- Please remember to sanitise the thermometer before and after you use it.
In the office
Please maintain social distancing at all times. This should be either two metres, or one metre plus control measures.
You must not use other people’s offices or desks for making calls or having meetings.
If you want to use a meeting room, you must book it in advance in the Outlook booking system at least 24 hours beforehand. Please do not just walk in, even if the room is empty.
There are sanitisation stations around the office. Please use these for keeping your own working area clean.
We are unable to take delivery of personal parcels. Please arrange for all your personal online shopping to go to your home.
If you order a business-related delivery, please arrange for someone to be able to accept it. Deliveries will be left on the table in reception, and will not be signed for.
Frequently asked questions:
You must follow the illness reporting process; you must inform your line manager as soon as possible, along with the reason you feel ill. If you are unwell with COVID symptoms, you should visit NHS.uk and arrange for a coronavirus test. Stay at home until you get the result and follow the normal absence reporting processes.
If people are concerned over someone else’s health or want to report people who are not following rules, who should they speak to?
Ciara Pryce, Richard Wheeler or Laura Perry. This will be dealt with confidentially, and with discretion.
Desks, social distancing, and headphones
Can I use other desks or offices not in use for myself, or meetings etc?
No. You must only use your allocated desk or a pre-booked hot desk. You must not use a desk with an X marked on it. This is to reduce the number of areas that can be contaminated from multiple uses. This includes using an unoccupied desk for a phone call.
Does the two-metre rule still apply in the office?
VGC will comply with government advice of ‘1 metre plus’. This means one metre apart plus control measures. Between now and 1 September, all desks will be reviewed to make sure the one-metre gap remains. We may request that you sit to the left or right side of a desk.
Will we be provided with headphones, as there are no desk phones?
We are currently trialling headsets within the office and this will continue. Headsets will be issued where appropriate and with line manager authorisation.
What control measures are in place?
Our extensive control measures include
- sanitising hands regularly
- thorough cleaning of communal touch points daily
- further extensive cleaning each week
- limiting meeting room and individual office capacity
- reducing canteen room use
- removing sharing facilities such as communal cups
- attendance booking system
- removing on-demand hot-desking.
If a meeting room is empty, can I quickly use it?
No. All meeting room use must be pre-booked. This is to reduce the number of areas that can become contaminated from multiple use.
Is there a maximum number of people allowed in a meeting room?
Yes, the numbers are displayed outside meeting rooms and individual offices. Please adhere to these at all time
Office visitors and deliveries
Can I have visitors in the office?
No. Only a director or Richard Wheeler (Chris O’Sullivan for Canning Town) can authorise a visitor.
Directors must authorise any satellite/regional office visitors.
Visitors are limited to reception, training room and ground floor toilets
It is the responsibility of the person inviting the guest to ensure they are booked in on the attendance register. You must communicate the office attendance briefing to them. Daniel keeps copies of this briefing, and a copy is also available from HSQE department.
You must ensure their contact details are recorded on the briefing log, which Daniel keeps.
You must remain with the visitor at all times.
Only delivery persons are exempt from this. They are limited to reception area delivery table only, to either drop off or collect items.
Can I have personal items delivered to me at the office?
No, this is currently not permitted. We ask all staff to comply with this. Personal deliveries such as Amazon and ASOS will not be signed for.
If I I take holiday and need to self isolate afterwards, can I attend the office?
VGC will comply with current government advice on who must isolate, and who has been covered by a travel corridor exception.
Any known isolation period will be counted as part of your annual leave allowance unless authorisation is provided by Ciara Pryce for an alternative arrangement.
Furlough and flexible furlough
I am on flexible furlough. Does the office re-opening mean I go back to full time working and am required in office for their normal hours? Or should I just come in on the days I are scheduled to work?
The current furlough scheme remains in place until 31 October 2020. Your line manager has agreed your furlough pattern with you. This remains unchanged, and you should attend only on the days you are scheduled to work.
I am still on furlough. Does the office reopening mean that I am returning to work?
The current furlough arrangements remain in place. We are reviewing the workload on a weekly basis and will invite people to return to work as the workload increases.
Face to face meetings
Once the office is open, are people allowed to attend face-to-face meetings with third parties or clients?
As stated above, visitors are only permitted into VGC offices with director approval.
Attendance at third party or client offices is permitted, because only businesses that can show they are COVID secure are permitted to be open.
You should follow government guidance for safety measures while in public places.
Are people allowed to travel on public transport to meetings?
Yes, subject to government and client requirements. If a client does not permit certain types of public transport modes, you must comply with this.
All travel done as part of your job representing VGC must comply with any regulatory requirements in place at that time for that form of travel.
If the office is at full capacity how will the drinks stations and lunch room work? Will we be allowed to eat at our own desk if lunch room is full?
We expect staff to be considerate in the time they occupy these communal areas and remain socially distanced. If an area is busy, you will need to return later. Although VGC discourages eating at your desk, because we like people to have a break from their desk, this will be relaxed as long as social distancing measures are required.
Can people make other people tea, if there is only one person allowed at the drinks station at any one time?
Yes, so long as they sanitise their hands before and after. Signage is in place to remind everyone of this.
Are there any control measures for using shared facilities such as photocopiers and the franking machine?
Please either wash or sanitise your hands before and after using these facilities.
Is there a limit to the number of people in the shared toilets?
Only one person should access the communal toilet facilities at any time. There is a sign outside the door that should be changed to occupied / unoccupied when they are used. Please remember to change it to unoccupied when you leave the toilet facility.
Will there be an option to keep working from home?
There have been some benefits to remote working and VGC is keen to promote this, where appropriate to the workload. Currently, terms and conditions of your employment do not account for this, and home working was a temporary arrangement until such time as the coronavirus risk reduced.
From 1 September, for those not on furlough, your standard terms and conditions of employment including location and contracted hours return. Only HR can change this. You must return to the office and hours of employment you are contracted to do.
I cannot attend the office at certain times or days because of childcare or other carer requirements. Can this be accommodated?
Your VGC line manager can authorise a one-off instance. Your terms and conditions of employment state your agreed location, hours and days of employment.
From 1 September, for those not on furlough, your standard terms and conditions of employment, including contracted hours, return. If you wish to discuss any changes to these you should speak to head of HR Laura Perry.