SWINDON-BASED construction firm Beard has begun the phased reopening of its offices and welcomed back some of its staff who have struggled with remote working.

The move follows a successful week-long trial, with a range of safety measures put in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

Most of the firm's office-based employees will continue to work from home but conversations with staff members revealed that some felt they would benefit from the interaction of an office environment.

More than 90 per cent of Beard sites remained operational throughout the lockdown period and work has already resumed on the rest.

Mike Hedges is in charge of the company's health and safety and is the director of Beard’s Bristol office.

He said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is our top priority. We are not requiring anyone to return to the office but we know from talking to staff that there are some, particularly those who live alone, for whom full-time remote working has been challenging.

“Mental wellbeing is every bit as important as physical health. We want to do our utmost to cater for the varied needs our colleagues have, while ensuring they are protected from unnecessary risk of infection.

“It has been particularly valuable in achieving this to draw on the experiences of colleagues who have continued to work on site.

"They have performed minor miracles in adapting to safer working practices to protect against Covid-19 and the firm is extremely grateful to them for their efforts.”

A dedicated project manager has been appointed for each of the firm’s offices in Swindon, Guildford, Oxford and Bristol to oversee the process of ensuring that staff can return to the office safely.

Those wishing to do so have all signed a declaration that they have not experienced coronavirus symptoms and completed an induction on the safety measures they need to be aware of.

Beard has prepared a short video for staff to help them with the new working arrangements, and this has been made available via the firm’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U32xKnXuzs

Clear signage has been put up in all buildings to help staff to keep a two-metre distance at all times, with a rota system to keep as few staff on-site as possible, and meeting rooms have been banned.

Meetings are instead still being held remotely where possible, and in open areas when absolutely necessary, while maintaining social distancing.