Chamber Patron Chrisbeon is busy helping businesses prepare offices for a safe return to work of staff amid the continuing backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ongoing Government working from home guidance and a second lockdown continue to place the emphasis on remote working but many businesses have already taken steps to ensure a Covid-safe environment for a return to work while many others are planning to do so.

Leading office supplies company Chrisbeon is helping businesses achieve this by adapting the workplace to meet the safety criteria - with one of the most effective measures being protective screening.

Richard Hughes, a partner with the firm, said: “Remote working became the norm for many during the first lockdown but even before restrictions started to be lifted businesses were thinking about how best they could ensure the safety of employees when they returned to work.

“We took a lot of calls and were able to help businesses make premises Covid-safe for staff to return - whether that was being phased in as lockdown lifted or to be ready for some point in the future.

“Many companies are sticking with home working where possible but there are those who can’t work remotely and there are other reasons for getting back in the office - productivity and mental wellbeing, for example. So we need to find a way of achieving this without risking an escalation in Covid cases along with other winter ailments which can lead to increased absenteeism.

“One of the most successful ways of achieving this is by installing screens in the workplace. Screening means less illness circulating through the office, adding a level of reassurance for those returning to work and resulting in a higher level of overall productivity.

“Screening also has a positive effect on other health issues. The flu season is upon us, a time when many employers experience a high level of staff sickness - something which hopefully can be prevented with screens and dividers and other measures in place.

“We have been installing desk-mounted high screens, screen toppers and free-standing high screens for clients over many weeks now as businesses planned for a return to work. It’s a simple but effective measure which can be taken to safeguard the health of staff.”

Chrisbeon client J&PR Ltd decided to invest in screens and dividers for their Wellington office. Operations Director Rhea Alton said: "Although we work on a cloud system and our staff work flexibly, it was important to us that the office was accessible when needed.

"We believe it is an investment as these restrictions could be in place for a long time, and for a number of our team it is not feasible to work permanently from home - their mental health and wellbeing is important to us, as is their safety in the workplace."