Reoccupying our offices

Written by Kelvin Sidaway, Quality, Health, Safety and Environment Manager

Over the coming weeks, we are starting to reoccupy the offices. While there will not be a sudden influx of people this gradual process presents challenges to the business. We need to ensure people’s safety and mental and physical wellbeing while at the same time allowing the organisation to get back to a sense of business as usual to ensure our long-term economic survival and prosperity.

To do this we implemented several measures which include:

  1. A phased approach to returning to Watford Gap, home to our headquarters, also known as Fortec’s ‘Hub’. We prioritised the operational roles that are best carried out on-site (but only when it was safe to do so). We also ran a pilot programme for the first 10% of Hub-based employees working to ensure our safety precautions were effective.

  2. A revised office plan to ensure we comply with social distancing and reduce the number of people using shared spaces.

  3. Anti-bacterial stations are in situ in reception areas, at warehouse entrances and in all communal spaces such as kitchens and toilet facilities. There are also gloves and cleaning equipment available for all.

  4. A clear desk policy is being enforced, to ensure all surfaces can be thoroughly cleaned.

  5. PPE is available to all team members, including face masks, gloves, anti-bacterial gel, tissues, and sanitising wipes

Before any staff started to return to the Hub we re-painted and reorganised everything and all carpets were deep cleaned, along with all communal spaces.

Here are a few questions I am frequently being asked, along with some answers:

Q: How can you ensure people are always socially distanced?


A: To maintain social distancing rules, we needed to change how the offices were laid out. People are no longer able to sit closely together at desks or in meeting rooms. We have revised our office spaces to ensure everyone is seated at least two metres apart. We have added a second meeting room, and both will be restricted to five people, unless PPE is being used.

Most of the Hub team, previously in the Hub office, are now located on the ground floor of Unit 1. This means that our entire workforce are spread out across the site, reducing the number of people using the communal spaces, including corridors and entrance doors.

Q: What is being put in place to keep people safe in shared spaces?


Antibacterial cleaning equipment is available.

Every employee has been asked to use their own mug, glass, cutlery, and crockery, which should be stored in desks to avoid cross contamination.

Disposable cups are being provided for visitors and hand sanitiser dispensers and gloves are wall mounted in every kitchen space and toilet

Q: What is the process for visitors to site? Can meetings still take place?

Visitors are allowed on-site, but the guidelines below should be followed to ensure everyone's safety.

  1. Do not shake hands or greet in any other physical way

  2. Always stay two metres apart

  3. Visitor PPE packs can be provided

  4. Use disposable cups when making refreshments and wash hands thoroughly, or wear a clean set of gloves, before handling the cups.

  5. Keep meetings short, where possible, and ensure they are held in rooms suitable for the number of people attending to ensure social distancing measures can always be followed.

  6. Once the meeting is over, ensure disposable cups are put in the bin and wash hands thoroughly

Although the COVID-19 outbreak has had a devastating impact on many individuals and communities, while also being a significant test on our business, it also provides an opportunity for us to rethink the role of the workplace - and ask ourselves what does the post-pandemic workplace look like?

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©2020 For-Ex Distribution Network Limited | Company No. 03865865 (England and Wales) | Part of the Pall-Ex Group | Registered Address: Pall-Ex House, Victoria Road, Ellistown, LE67 1FH