COUNCILLORS are eyeing a return to the council’s office building along with staff post-lockdown.

A report was presented to Slough cabinet members virtually on May 18 outlining how will staff return to the building – the Observatory House – and what measures will be implemented to protect staff when they return.

Chief executive Josie Wragg informed members the council is working on a ‘phased re-entry’ where facility officers have been around the office building implementing two-metre space arrows and one-way systems to enforce social distancing measures and keep staff safe when they return to work.

She said: “Health and safety and the return of our staff is the absolute forefront of our minds.”

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She also said more than 85 per cent of council staff have been working from home and no members have reported contracting the virus, but very few have reported they were shielding.

Staff returning to Observatory House is part of Slough Borough Council’s 6-24 month recovery plan for the council to get over the impacts of the coronavirus.

The council has assessed and redeployed staff in ‘non-critical’ roles to frontline, essential areas – such as someone from the library who are working in the community response team to meet the high demand during the pandemic.

It was reported that in many areas within the council, work productivity has gone up – even with staff working from home.

Time to pick up calls at their contact has increased despite high volumes of enquiries.

Opposition councillor Wayne Strutton (Conservative: Haymill and Lynch Hill) raised health and safety concerns about why there wasn’t enough hand sanitiser at the Landmark Place office building for staff and why two disabled council workers weren’t told to work from home earlier before lockdown and what support was given to them to enable them to work from home.

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Josie Wragg responded: “Yes, most people were in work as they normally were because the official guidance in terms of asking people to work from home hadn’t actually been implemented at that time.

“Before lockdown, managers were asked to have individual conversations with staff who they knew and felt were particularly vulnerable and arrangements were made for those members of staff to work from home and, in fact, those members of staff where we knew there was a vulnerability were encouraged to work from home well before lockdown was implemented.

“As soon as lockdown was implemented, we enabled many more people to work from home and now in Landmark Place, the social distance and the ability to work from home is implemented.”

Councillor James Swindlehurst (Labour: Cippenham Green), leader of the council, added there was stock issues to get enough hand sanitisers because of the huge demand for them at the beginning of the pandemic.