12 June 2020
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought ambiguity and a general feeling of not knowing what to expect when returning to the workplace. One thing for certain is that businesses are reassessing their strategies to help plan for a smooth and thoughtful transition back to the workplace.
Please read our 'Back to Work Blog' which covers writing your strategy and conducting risk assessments.
Employers should continue to demonstrate their willingness to be flexible to support employees. One of the most noticeable changes will be how employees commute.
Please read the Government travel guidance for full details on safe travel (Travel Guidance)
This article explores how commute options may change and ways that employers can support employees commuting in a world altered by COVID-19.
It wasn’t that long ago that a workday commute meant standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the tube, trying to find an open seat on the train or holding a handrail while standing in a crowded bus. As the pandemic threat shifts, those types of transit situations may cause anxiety for commuters who are practising social distancing and avoiding large gatherings of people— especially people they do not know.
Employees who rely on public transport for their commute may be worried about contracting COVID-19.
As a result, keep in mind that employees may prefer to travel at off-peak times or take a less busy route to reduce the number of changes.
It’s not surprising that public health experts predict that people will likely want to drive alone in their personal vehicles to avoid exposure to COVID-19 while commuting.
Discourage carpooling with co-workers or others not living in the employee’s household. For employees who rely on carpooling or other formal ride-sharing services to get to the workplace, encourage them to ask drivers about their cleaning procedures, and practise social distancing and good hygiene
Walking, Cycling and Other Transport
For employees who live close to the workplace, they may opt to walk, or ride a bicycle or e-scooter as an alternative. However, these may be impractical modes of transport due to local climate or geography.
Consider understanding your employees’ locations and transport needs as you’re working on a return-to-work plan and outlining commuting benefits.
- To limit employees' exposure to many other commuters, employers could offer parking subsidies.
- If your company already has a remote work program in place, consider extending that for those who can get their work done from home—or allowing employees to work on-site and also remotely.
- Consider offering flexible hours to accommodate personal responsibilities that are a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., caring for children or other family members). By standardising a mix of on-site and offsite remote work, employees could come into the workplace when it’s necessary for meetings and stay at home when it’s not.
- If it is essential to have everyone back in the workplace, consider staggering schedules so that employees do not have to travel during peak times. Most importantly, encourage employees to stay home if they are sick.