Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday, England is preparing for a second lockdown - just as Wales prepares to have their own restrictions eased. Essentially, Lockdown II is just that; an updated, “improved” lockdown with adjustments based on lessons learned from Lockdown I. Some of these lessons relate to tradespeople and, following confusion in previous months, the Government has offered some clarity for tradespeople from across industries. This clarification means that, for now, people can move home and they can have tradespeople working in their home.
The overriding message regarding work is relatively simple: if you can work from home, do so. If you can’t reasonably work from home, then go to work, but make sure that you take precautions to keep you, co-workers and customers safe. Here’s what traders need to bear in mind:
Communicate with your employees and with your customers. Make sure your employees know what measures they need to take to stay safe, and let your customers know what you will be doing to protect them. Communication goes one step further; by keeping communication channels open with customers and employees alike, you will make it as easy as possible for them to let you know if they have any concerns - from a friend who is isolating, to a new, niggling cough. If customers or traders feel unwell, the work needs to be postponed until they are no longer a risk.
Keep it clean. In general, your aim is to reduce contact between co-workers and customers. This includes literally every touch point. Whatever trade you are in, regularly clean hands and surfaces – particularly those that are likely to be touched a lot, such as door handles, and shared tools. Ask staff to wear face coverings where possible, and ensure that they are replaced if they become damp. If you are working in the home of a vulnerable person or person with hearing impairment, you may be required to remove the mask to effectively communicate; if this is the case, be sure to follow social distancing guidelines.
Social distance - employees should maintain a two-metre distance from each other where possible. If this is not possible, they should aim for one metre with mitigations, such as: washing hands more frequently; working as quickly as possible to minimise contact; working back to back or side to side (instead of face to face), and reducing person-to-person contact by having fixed teams.
Wherever possible, conduct meetings between customers and staff virtually. If it is not possible to conduct virtual meetings, meet in a larger, well ventilated space – for example, if you are fitting a new bathroom, instead of talking logistics in the small bathroom, head to a larger room and ask the customer to open a couple of windows while you talk.
While the government guidelines aim to be as clear as possible, there may well be areas of uncertainty. If this is the case, stay on the side of caution. It is also important to bear in mind that while having two or more traders in the home may be permitted by law, a customer may not feel comfortable with the situation. This is where communication and trust will help to make sure that you and your clients remain happy and safe.