With thoughts turning towards easing lockdown restrictions in the coming weeks, charities and voluntary organisations are looking ahead to how they will adjust to the ‘new normal’. There are differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK, with the Scottish government outlining the phases of easing in a framework for future decision making.

Right now our sector is #NeverMoreNeededand has to start to think and plan for a huge range of operational, governance and employee challenges. Many services have adapted to digital and remote channels, and it’s unlikely that there will be a return to ‘business as usual’ for some time. There is a great deal of uncertainty, but there are four key areas to consider:

Staff

  • When the Furlough Scheme ends which employees will return to ‘business as ‘usual’?
  • For staff that can’t work from home, how will you organise the space available to ensure physical distancing?
  • Are you communicating regularly with staff, and informing them of any potential changes to roles and responsibilities?
  • Have you thought about introducing rotas, and staggering start and finish times to help staff avoid busy public transport?
  • Are you providing appropriate support and supervision for your staff in light of any wellbeing and mental health challenges?
  • Have you thought about future flexible working arrangements for staff who need continued support with caring commitments, or who need to continue shielding?
  • Are you up to speed with government guidance on the test, trace, isolate approach for key workers and how to access PPE if appropriate?
  • Have you considered asking staff to inform you of any future travel plans outwith Scotland?

Premises

  • Are you ready to carry out risk assessments to determine whether any premises or services could re-open?
  • Have you thought about how to prevent infection in the workplace eg with extra handwashing facilities, cleaning of office equipment, door handles, kitchen and desks?
  • Are you clear on the use of face coverings in line with government guidance?
  • Do your cleaning contractors have the right protective wear for their staff?

Volunteers

  • Are you communicating regularly with your volunteers and considering how they will contribute to your future services?
  • How can you best capture evidence on the contribution of volunteers during the coronavirus crisis?
  • How can you help volunteers with digital inclusion and digital literacy?

Governance

  • Is your board ready to make decisions about risk and liability if you do decide to re-open premises and services
  • Do you have a finance and fundraising strategy that will incorporate physical distancing?
  • Do you have business continuity plans in place if key personnel are sick?
  • Do you know when to report any issues to regulators such as OSCR or the Care Inspectorate

There are a lot of questions here, and we don’t have many definitive answers just yet. We’re working on finding practical and solution focused information, and as the situation changes, and new government guidance becomes available, we’ll continue to update the CoronavirusThird Sector Information Hub. If there’s anything you need to know that we haven’t covered here, let us know – it’s important we all start to think about what to expect in the months ahead.