ONE of the region’s leading companies has started a phased return to work for furloughed staff after significantly investing in safety measures.

Utility Alliance, the energy consultancy which has a headquarters in Hartlepool and additional sites in Newcastle and Sheffield, has been operating with a team of homeworkers since lockdown was introduced towards the end of March.

The company has performed well during the pandemic, and while those staff who have been working from home will continue to do so, the return of small teams of workers on Tuesday marks the start of a phased return which is hoped will be rolled out for more furloughed staff over the next few weeks.

Staff reporting back for work on Tuesday formed a queue outside of the building where they stood two metres apart, and were invited in individually where they were asked if they had any symptoms and had their temperature taken.

Any staff who report symptoms or have a high temperature – of which there were none on Tuesday – will be sent home and encouraged to seek medical advice.

They were then directed to their individual work stations which have been completely resdesigned to ensure they adhere to Government guidelines.

All workers were issued with their own PPE pack which included a facemask, gloves and sanitiser.

The company, which has been ranked in the Top 100 Places to Work in the UK by The Sunday Times for the last two years, has completely revamped its buildings and procedures to keep staff safe.

Ian Willis, Head of PR & Marketing at Utility Alliance, said: “We had a plan in place before lockdown was announced which would keep the business operating in the event of staff being unable to work from the office, and that has been successful.

“We are a target-driven operation, and while that figure was reduced to a realistic level to take into account the change in working conditions we are delighted with the performance over the last few weeks.

“We have monitored Government guidelines on a daily basis, and as lockdown has gradually eased in various ways we have put measures in place which have allowed us to start bringing staff who had been furloughed back into the workplace.

“We welcomed the first team of staff back into our Hartlepool and Newcastle offices on Tuesday, and will continue to adhere to the guidelines as we look to bring back more furloughed staff on a voluntary basis in the coming weeks.”