Detailed plan agreed for O2 store re-opening

Telecoms & Financial Services, Openreach

Comprehensive arrangements to safeguard the welfare of both staff and customers have been agreed with Telefonica in advance of the reopening of the company’s O2 stores.

With the mobile giant’s 202 retail outlets in England gearing up to recommence trading on June 15 in line with Government guidelines – and stores in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set to follow suit once dates have been confirmed by the respective administrations –  the CWU is confident that Telefonica is doing everything it can to minimise the risk of new COVID-19 infections resulting.

Following a successful pilot involving eight shops a fortnight ago, last week the rest of O2’s stores in England witnessed a limited ‘return to work’ with a maximum of three team members re-entering the workplace at any one time to test out new ways of working and get the premises ready for the resumption of trading.

The exercise, which was carefully rota’d to ensure social distancing, involved the working through of a ‘reopening  task list’ that ends today  (Friday) with role-play sessions on how to interact safely with customers.

Throughout the week, bulk deliveries of PPE including cloth face masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitiser, face visors, sanitising spray an mobile perspex screens have been delivered to  directly-managed stores and franchises alike, That will be followed up  by the delivery of sufficient ‘Stay Safe’ messaged t-shirts to allow for every team member to have a fresh uniform every day.

Crucially, the ‘reopening’ preparations have included the creation of new rosters that take into consideration not just the space required to operate safely at 2 metres distance from both colleague an customers – but also the fact that Telefonica itself accepts that around 20% of staff members have special circumstances that need to be taken into consideration.

CWU assistant secretary Sally Bridge explains: “It’s very welcome that the company has factored in the need  for around one in five of its stores employees to have either a change of hours or other special arrangements stemming from the fact that they are shielding an exceptionally vulnerable person, self-isolating or have childcare or other caring responsibilities that simply cannot not be covered.

“The  CWU has been extremely impressed with the diligence and attention to detail which has gone into the O2 store reopening plans.

“Telefonica has put in a great deal of effort into analysing potential risk areas and setting in place effective  measures to mitigate them  – actively consulting with the CWU every step of the way, thereby allowing the union the opportunity to constructively feed into the process.

“This is a good example of a company working responsibly with a recognised trade union to agree measures that will hopefully provide reassurance to employees and reduce the risk of  COVID-19 transmission rates going back up as we come out of lockdown.”