Workplace Safety for Microsoft customers how to make desks safe places to work in

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Let's look at The recovery phase of the Pandemic , what does the organisation and the employee require?

Step 1 HR and Legal Need to review the government guidance published below that is required by law and enforced with HSE Enforcement Orders.

The needs of a Pandemic Management workplace split into two immediately;

- organisational (to get productivity and output back to planned levels)

-and the individual (many are completely overlooking this)


The CEO just wants you to be back at work producing the revenue and cost base that delivers him/her and their shareholders a margin, as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.

However he also has been mindful of his board responsibilities, to deliver the safe workplace where employees can perform and the organisation is safe from prosecution.

Let's look at those organisation requirements by persona or responsibility type:

Human resources requirements

  • A safe workplace

  • Clear legal and employee guidelines

  • Safe distancing

  • Minimise surface contact so a Touch-less check in and out process

  • Sanitisation of spaces

  • Contact tracing

  • GDPR compliance

  • Employee safety transparency

We'll come to legal later, however, the government has defined the requirements and you can download those requirements here

1.1 Manage risk

In the context of COVID-19 this means working through these steps in order:

  • In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.

  • Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people 2m apart wherever possible).

  • Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

  • Further mitigating actions include:

  • Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.

  • Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.

  • Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.

  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.

  • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others).

  • Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.

  • In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

1.2 Sharing the results of your risk assessment Review WHO should work.

Staff should work from home if at all possible. Consider who is needed to be on-site; for example:

  • Workers in roles critical for business and operational continuity, safe facility management, or regulatory requirements and which cannot be performed remotely.

  • Workers in critical roles which might be performed remotely, but who are unable to work remotely due to home circumstances or the unavailability of safe enabling equipment. Planning for the minimum number of people needed on site to operate safely and effectively.

  • Monitoring the wellbeing of people who are working from home and helping them stay connected to the rest of the workforce, especially if the majority of their colleagues are on-site.

  • Keeping in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security. Providing equipment for people to work at home safely and effectively, for example, remote access to work systems.

2. Who should work

Staff should work from home if at all possible. Consider who is needed to be on-site; for example:

  • Workers in roles critical for business and operational continuity, safe facility management, or regulatory requirements and which cannot be performed remotely.

  • Workers in critical roles which might be performed remotely, but who are unable to work remotely due to home circumstances or the unavailability of safe enabling equipment.

  • Planning for the minimum number of people needed on site to operate safely and effectively.

  • Monitoring the wellbeing of people who are working from home and helping them stay connected to the rest of the workforce, especially if the majority of their colleagues are on-site.

  • Keeping in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security.

  • Providing equipment for people to work at home safely and effectively, for example, remote access to work systems.

Two other key populations to consider are:

Vulnerable people: Objective: To protect clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals. Infected Self Isolate: Objective: To make sure individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 as well as those who live in a household with someone who has symptoms.

3. Social distancing at work

To maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work, while in work and when travelling between sites.

  • Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.

Consider these things:

  • Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.

  • Providing additional parking or facilities such as bike- racks to help people walk, run, or cycle to work where possible.

  • Limiting passengers in corporate vehicles, for example, work minibuses. This could include leaving seats empty.

  • Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace.

  • Providing more storage for workers for clothes and bags.

  • Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points.

  • Providing handwashing facilities, or hand sanitiser where not possible, at entry/exit points and not using touch-based security devices such as keypads.

  • Defining process alternatives for entry/exit points where appropriate, for example, deactivating turnstiles requiring pass checks in favour of showing a pass to security personnel at a distance.

3.2 Moving around buildings and worksites Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible while people travel through the workplace.

  • Introducing more one-way flow through buildings.

  • Reducing maximum occupancy for lifts, providing hand sanitiser for the operation of lifts and encouraging use of stairs wherever possible.

3.3 Workplaces and workstations stations Objective: To maintain social distancing between individuals when they are at their workstations.

  • Review layouts and processes to allow people to work further apart from each other.

  • Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help workers keep to a 2m distance.

  • Only where it is not possible to move workstations further apart, arranging people to work side by side or facing away from each other rather than face-to- face.

  • Only where it is not possible to move workstations further apart, using screens to separate people from each other.

  • Managing occupancy levels to enable social distancing.

  • Avoiding use of hot desks and spaces and, where not possible, for example, call centres or training facilities, cleaning workstations between different occupants including shared equipment.

3.4 Meetings Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings.

  • Using remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings.

  • Only absolutely necessary participants should attend meetings and should maintain 2m separation throughout.

  • Avoiding transmission during meetings, for example, avoiding sharing pens and other objects.

  • Providing hand sanitiser in meeting rooms.

  • Holding meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible.

  • For areas where regular meetings take place, using floor signage to help people maintain social distancing.

4. Managing your customers, visitors and contractors

  • Encouraging visits via remote connection/working where this is an option.

  • Where site visits are required, site guidance on social distancing and hygiene should be explained to visitors on or before arrival.

  • Limiting the number of visitors at any one time.

  • Limiting visitor times to a specific time window and restricting access to required visitors only.

  • Determining if schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people, for example, carrying out services at night.

  • Maintaining a record of all visitors, if this is practical.

  • Revising visitor arrangements to ensure social distancing and hygiene, for example, where someone physically signs in with the same pen in receptions.

  • Providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage or visual aids and before arrival, for example, by phone, on the website or by email.

  • Establishing host responsibilities relating to COVID-19 and providing any necessary training for people who act as hosts for visitors.

Here's a link to a blog that tells any Microsoft Office 365 customer how to implement a safe workplace quickly

5.1 Before reopening Objective: To make sure that any site or location that has been closed or partially operated is clean and ready to restart, including:

  • An assessment for all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed, before restarting work.

  • Carrying out cleaning procedures and providing hand sanitiser before restarting work.

  • Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.

  • Most air conditioning system do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings or you are unsure, advice can be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.

  • Opening windows and doors frequently to encourage ventilation, where possible.

5.2 Keeping the workplace clean Objective: To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.

Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products. Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles and keyboards, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements.

Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.

Limiting or restricting use of high-touch items and equipment, for example, printers or whiteboards. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the specific guidance

6. PPE and Face covering

This applies only in clinical circumstances or where you are infected but have no symptoms respectively and therefore will not apply to the vast majority of corporate buildings.

Desk Management Checklist - Areas to cover

  1. Mobile booking - reduce employees touching surface other than there own device.

  2. Web booking - again reduce surface contact.

  3. Desk status free busy - transparency of what can be booked.

  4. Desk status unavailable sanitisation required - clean safe desk management and cleaning.

  5. Desk vendor message cleaning list - direct messaging to cleaning contractors.

  6. Vendor change status - allow cleaners to reset desk statuses.

  7. Desk GPS check-in - contactless check-in by building GPS.

  8. Desk GPS checkout - automatic, no one has to remember.

  9. Desk integration Vpod - integration to touchless reception kiosks.

  10. Desk way-finding - exit reception areas quickly and find your clean desk.

  11. Desk booking integration - if you use visitor management systems make sure they are linked/integrated to capture who went where tracing.

  12. Desk spacing - clearly enforce desk spacing.

  13. Desk spacing transparency - make that spacing visually clear to employees.

  14. Desk booking day of week phasing - enable shift or group work.

  15. Desk booking close area - upon infection detection close any area fast.

  16. Specific contact tracing capability.

We know of only one vendor that has these 16 capabilities, can implement quickly, is cloud based, on Azure and can scale globally. Condeco

7. Workforce management

7.1 Shift patterns and working groups Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each employee has.

  • As far as possible, where staff are split into teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.

  • Identifying areas where people directly pass things to each other, for example office supplies, and finding ways to remove direct contact, such as using drop-off points or transfer zones.

7.2 Work- related travel

7.2.1 Cars, accommodation and visits

  • Minimising non-essential travel – consider remote options first.

  • Minimising the number of people travelling together in any one vehicle, using fixed travel partners, increasing ventilation when possible and avoiding sitting face-to-face.

  • Cleaning shared vehicles between shifts or on handover.

  • Where workers are required to stay away from their home, centrally logging the stay and making sure any overnight accommodation meets social distancing guidelines.

7.3 Communications and Training 7.3.1 Returning to Work Developing communication and training materials for workers prior to returning to site, especially around new procedures for arrival at work.

Legal requirements:

Cilex , The Chartered Institute for Legal Executives, have all the changing legal advice click the image below for their website

  • A safe workplace.

  • Contact tracing.

  • Tracking "legal guideline changes.”

  • Ensuring compliance.

  • Making sure employees understand, we have delivered.

The guidelines are clear, but how do you prove at a later date you followed them?

Our advice implement a track and trace system with clear sources of data for each persona or workplace stakeholder.

The best reporting system for multiple sources of data we know is

Management - 8 basic questions you can ask yourself

  1. Are we delivering a safe workplace?

  2. or maintaining one that 100% complies with and goes beyond government guidance?

  3. Can you sit in the seat that hasn’t been sanitised?

  4. Is a safe workplace easy to book?

  5. Are the safety measures transparent to employees?

  6. Are the employees productive when they get here?

  7. Are they more productive than at home?

  8. How do I measure Covid-19 distance compliance and tracing?

  9. How do I communicate we are measuring compliance?

  10. How do we use technology to deliver a repeatable process that's consistent.

Facilities Management Quick Checklist for Reception Areas?

  1. Can we manage visitors safely?

  2. Have we got touchless check-in?

  3. Can we screen people for infection on arrival and steer them to an isolated area?

  4. Can we deal with them upon detection?

  5. If we detect an infection who deals with it?

  6. How do we deal with it?

  7. Is my reception area free from congestion?

  8. Can I get visitors through reception security barriers?

  9. Have I a barrier cleaning policy and process?

  10. Can I protect my reception staff?

  11. Can I reduce my reception staff exposure threat?

The Employee

These factors above, all deal with the organisation and its responsibilities, however the employee needs that psychological reassurance that they are safe.

10 Suggestions for Workplace Peace of Mind

We believe that if you:

  1. Follow the Government Guidelines optimising home working and workplace distancing.

  2. Go "beyond the tape" and have a system for workplace management of Rooms and Desks.

  3. Review Common areas and insert one way traffic flows.

  4. Have a strict sanitisation policy and processes, to cover all workplaces and attendees.

  5. Give the employees technology to help them stay safe and remove unnecessary surface contact.

  6. Use technology to manage 100% visitors and contractors, removing sign in and pen contact.

  7. Track and trace infected personnel effectively.

  8. Report compliance with safe distancing.

  9. Communicate the steps you've taken.

  10. Work with tried a tested solutions that are integrated to other market leaders in Visitor management.

Then and only then will you retain employees and suppliers and encourage team members to return to the workplace.

Those that will not convince anyone will be those that do the following:

  1. Leave reception areas vulnerable to congestion.

  2. Over expose external contract staff to infection be they reception teams, security staff or cleaners.

  3. Slap tape everywhere and erect screens making the place "feel hazardous".

  4. Use cheap thermal cameras to measure body temperature not the core temperature versions that work and comply with iSO standards.

  5. Have no policy or process for infection reporting at point of detection.

  6. Do not employ technology to minimise surface "touch levels".

  7. do not have the correct surface cleaning frequency or event trigger levels in place.

  8. Do not space desks effectively and manage desks and their sanitisation using technology.

  9. Do not question who needs to come in for what and publish guidelines.

  10. Do not have a clear contact tracing system that covers the entire workplace.

  11. Have no workplace safety reporting systems that enable safety policies, to be managed.

The last thing you want is to have to find about one of these, Communication Edge
The last thing you want is to have to find about one of these

Suppliers that are integrated and know these technologies and their requirements are:

1. Ricoh Workplace Services talk to David Willoughby or Simon Fenton Jarvis (UK they know the other country contacts too)

2. Visitor Management Proxyclick Dorian and Sam Farrant at VPOD both are integrated to Condeco Room and Desk management See Proxyclick & VPOD demo at ISE 2020.

3. VPOD supply the Core Temperature cameras and for those who like opex models, not capex ones their voice and motion activated kiosks, can be financed through Ricoh.

4. The folk at Relogix have the best multiple data source reporting systems, analysts and insight team we have met, talk to jeff.

5. For Condeco here are the useful links, we recommend them because they have been in desks for 12 years, have a covid 19 additional feature release, on the 1st June, are cloud based, have a software only, rapid deployment system that they have spent a lot of time thinking through what you need. (i.e not slideware or thought up and delivered in the last few weeks) . They are global, hosted on Azure (which will relax most Microsoft customer CTO's). and can deploy 1000's of desks in 4 weeks.

Website Home page

Website Solutions page

Website Product page

Thought Leadership Guide PDF Download

Cleaning Facts

Glossary of Terms and meanings

Microsoft office 365 enhanced

  • Condeco extends office 365 so that simplistic bookers can find rooms and their charecteristics easily.

The safe workplace o365 enhanced

  • Condeco delivers a safe workplace through its social distancing of meeting room seats and desk spacing and sanitisation features.

The safe workplace office 365 enhanced

  • The safe workplace with distancing and sanitisation can be added to office 365 via the add-in.

Microsoft workplaces on demand,

  • Condeco adds desk and room booking on demand to office 365.

Microsoft smart workplace

  • We believe Condeco enhances Microsoft to deliver a smart workplace through its features and their benefits and their partner integrations.

A safe Microsoft enhanced workplace

  • Condeco enable the Microsoft productivity suite to deliver a safer workplace.

Microsoft workplace experience

  • Condeco and their partners help deliver a better Microsoft powered workplace experience with more efficient processes.

Workplace experience re-engineering

  • Condeco and their partners enable a re-engineered workplace to be delivered using technology to deliver a digital workplace.

Microsoft workplace efficiency

  • Condeco and its partners enable the more efficient processes to be delivered by enhancing Microsoft's core productivity suite Outlook.

Microsoft digital transformation

  • Those looking to digitally transform the workplace can do so extending and enhancing Microsoft.

Microsoft safe check-in

  • VPOD an Proxyclick extend Condeco and Microsoft to deliver a safe check-in through faster processes and less congested reception areas.

Microsoft touchless check-in

  • Proxyclick and Condeco deliver through the Integration with Condeco the touchless check-in to Microsoft customers.

Microsoft express check-in

  • Proxyclick and Condeco deliver through the Integration with Condeco the express check-in using their invites and QR codes for Microsoft customers.

The safe workplace

  • Condeco enable the safe workplace with their core desk and room products and their integrations with partners like VPOD and Proxyclick.

The safe workplace assigned seats

  • Assigned or bookable seats ensure no one is allowed to just sit where they like and not safe distance, without the use of tape.

The safe workplace hot desk

  • This is now delivered through the Condeco desk booking, safe spacing and sanitisation feature.

The safe workplace meeting rooms

  • delivered by using Condeco to safe distance seats and sanitise the rooms with its vendor management feature queuing work orders to cleaning vendors.

The safe workplace visitor management

  • Delivered Through the Condeco VPOD and Proxyclick integrations.

Covid-19 back to the workplace,

  • Term for recovery to the workplace post lockdown but prior to vaccination.

Safe workplace distancing

  • Term used for Meeting Room and Desk seating efficient 2 metre spacing delivered using the desk and room booking Condeco APP.

Safe reception distancing

  • Delivered by decongesting the reception area with invites delivered to visitors with QR codes, enable pre registration, touchless and express check-in. This decongests reception areas using the Condeco VPOD and Proxyclick check-in.

Desk booking check-list

  • Complying with the Covid back to workplace and call centre guidelines.

Mobile and Web booking

  • delivery of safe booking through own device booking, removing surfaces that you need to touch and sanitise.

Desk status free busy

  • delivered by the Condeco APP so the desk booker knows what's free, busy and available, whilst also seeing safe distancing from the floor plan.

Desk status unavailable sanitisation required

  • delivered by the Condeco APP when the desk is finished with but suspended from use requiring sanitisation and release.

Desk vendor message cleaning list

  • Delivered through the desk booking vendor management module.

Vendor change status

  • Delivered by the Condeco APP when the cleaning or catering vendor change the status of an order.

Desk GPS check-in

  • Delivered by The Condeco desk booking APP that delivers touchless check-in to your desk through the GPS HQ association triggered by your mobile device.

Desk GPS checkout

  • Delivered when a user leaves the building for a certain time, checking them out of the desk.

Desk integration Vpod

  • New module delivered by VPOD's desk integration with Condeco. Enables Desk booking from VPOD.

Desk way-finding

  • Delivered by VPOD and its integration to Condeco

Desk booking integration

  • VPOD feature enabling desks to be booked using the VGreet kiosks, useful for Post Covid or unscheduled bookings.

Desk spacing

  • Achieved with The Condeco App deploying safe distancing of desks and room seats and blocking out other seats to demonstrate safe distancing.

Desk spacing transparency

  • Delivers safe distancing by blocking out desks in between, opposite each other and deploying that on the booking app to deliver psychological safety to the desk booker.

Desk booking day of week phasing

  • Delivered by the Condeco app allowing day of the week booking if you've a phased use desk policy.

Desk booking close area.

  • Delivered by the Condeco APP which allows areas or zones to be closed and auto-cancels forward bookings pushing notifications to those that have booked to rebook.

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