Russell-Cooke health and safety partner Kizzy Augustin has collaborated with Resilience First on the first of a two-part guide for organisations dealing with issues around flexible working on the back of the Covid-19 lockdown. The guide, Resilience and Flexible Working – The Ups and Downs” was launched on 9 November 2020.

The Guide contains practical information for employers on how to maintain trust, teams and morale, how to maintain mental wellbeing and how to keep employees safe whilst working remotely. It also includes a customised WFH Risk Assessment Template from Resilience First for employers to use with their teams.

Resilience First is a not-for-profit business organisation that aims to improve business resilience in urban areas. It was launched in June 2018 and since then has gained a range of international champions and associates. Russell-Cooke has been a member of Resilience First since its launch.

Kizzy Augustin has a particular interest in the law relating to directors' health and safety duties and health and safety issues within the construction, care homes, environmental, manufacturing, fire, rail and retail industries. She has represented those alleged to have breached health and safety legislation in interviews under caution and in court, if proceedings are ultimately brought against them.

Launching the Guide Simon Collins, Chair, Resilience First, said:

The pandemic has brought about some significant changes to our previous, traditional working practices, and more adaptation will become apparent as we travel along the long and winding road to recovery. There is no doubt that companies are seeing change as both a necessity and an opportunity. The pandemic has accelerated that change in way we could not have imagined even at the end of last year. There is a realisation by many organisations that a significant proportion of their workforce will – for the foreseeable future – be dispersed and working away from the office for much of the time. Technology has been the great enabler here. While such flexible working may allow companies to reduce office footprints, there are potential downsides in terms of productivity hits through a lack of bonding, training and creativity. There is also the real danger of mental ill-health and skills fade in key areas like safety.”

Partner Kizzy Augustin said:

As the UK heads back into lockdown, individuals and businesses are feeling a sense of déjà vu. However, the stakes are much higher this time. Not only has fatigue set in, but the days are short, and the weather is against us. We also know that last time, three weeks of lockdown turned into far longer. For this reason, the Resilience First guide is extremely timely and we have been delighted to collaborate on it.”

As a health and safety lawyer I know that many businesses are simply not aware of their duties towards their employees and the sanctions for non-compliance. It is important that we protect our employees both from the physical health issues that are uppermost in our minds (contracting Covid-19) and also the mental health issues that may arise as a result of prolonged working from home or changes to the usual working arrangements. We hope this guide will have wide relevance and broad buy-in.”

The Guide can be accessed on the Resilience First website and here.