Coronavirus: What impact will new regulations have on health and wellbeing?

New announcements from the UK government have led to many more questions being asked about the future of UK industry and the role of risk, health, safety and compliance in the wellbeing of the population at scale.  Achieving agility in this uncertain climate is critical for survival but at what cost does this come?

Just as the UK was finding our feet and beginning to reopen our doors to welcome in the new normal, the world shifts and we are once again facing new laws, rules and regulations.  This article explores this means from an employer’s point of view in terms of the health, safety and wellbeing of our workforces.

What about warehousing and fulfilment?

The problem for warehousing and fulfilment is the absolute reliance on boots being on the ground. Earlier in the year, many started thanking those up and down the supply chain for their ‘key worker’ status and keeping the country running. As many of us have the choice of working from home, these employees have no choice but to be on the mezzanine floor. How do business owners ensure they are keeping their staff safe whilst also keeping up with the surge in demand?

Cold storage facilities across the nation are already being repurposed for the safekeeping of those who have lost their battles with the virus with our usual infrastructure being stretched. Those previously wholesale are now pivoting to venture into E-commerce fulfilment. The world is racing for a vaccine, which when it comes, will be set to turn industries upside down yet again – with more requirement for cold storage transport and storage facilities and increased pressure on those able to flex to the fast-changing needs and requirements.

For employers who do not have these types of facilities or abilities to change their product outputs in such a way, there are equal and increasing challenges ahead.

Of course, the responsible employers among us have always had our people’s wellbeing at the centre of our decisions, but now, more than ever, the spotlight is shining on proving the measures we have in place, why they are deemed appropriate and whether they are enough to reasonably say we are “doing enough” to keep people safe morally and legally.  Another differentiator in this scenario is when thinking about workplace wellbeing we are no longer simply able to consider the wellbeing of those in our employment; a simple slip in protocol could put not only our employees but their families, children, friends, schools and their communities at risk.

Facing the unknown

Not only are we in a position where we are facing a huge unknown in terms of the virus, who and how it attacks, but we are also being put into situations we never thought we would be navigating.  Isolation, working from home, redundancies, limited contact with loved ones, face coverings becoming the norm, reduced working hours, limited childcare options, travel restrictions, panic buying, the list goes on.

As employers, we now have to assess how these factors may be impacting our workforce on a more ongoing basis and how we can best support them given these challenging times aren’t coming to a close anytime soon.  Not only on an individual case-by-case basis but at serious scale, how are we to assess the mental health and wellbeing of our people when we cannot sit in a room with them? How can we check-in as we once would have done?  The only answer that comes to mind is technology, the only solution that offers flexibility, robustness, scale and agility in these testing times is technology.  In order to look after our primary asset – our people – we have to look at AI, software, eLearning and other tools to help us manage and thrive.