As the Government start setting out a roadmap for exiting lockdown, they have started releasing ‘back to work’ guidance for offices.
Despite releasing this, the government still advises that people should work from home if they can and for employers to support that.
It is important to start planning now, well ahead of offices opening again, to ensure a safe environment, so employees feel comfortable returning to the office.
Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the CBI commented: “The guidance builds on the good proactive plans many firms have developed during the lockdown. Excellent employee engagement, fast workplace innovation and transparency have helped many companies support livelihoods. It’s right to build on this.”
The UK Government guidance for offices is just that, guidance, each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of the business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.
Below are some of the key takeaways from the UK Government guidance for offices:
The first objective is that all employers complete a COVID-19 risk assessment for the office. The HSE has released a guide an example COVID-19 risk assesment you can use.
A key factor in the back to work strategy for the government and many operators is the issue of social distancing. In the UK the recommended distance between people is 2m. We have collated the best advice from landlords, tenants and service providers to create a Back to Work Strategy pack, available for free now.
The UK government guidance for offices lists some steps that can be taken to support social distancing efforts in each of the following situations:
- Coming to work and leaving work
- Moving around buildings
- Workplaces and workstations
- Common areas
Workplaces and workstations:
- Review layouts and processes to allow people to work further apart from each other.
- Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help workers keep to a 2m distance.
- Only where it is not possible to move workstations further apart, arranging people to work side by side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face.
- Only where it is not possible to move workstations further apart, using screens to separate people from each other.
- Managing occupancy levels to enable social distancing.
- Avoiding use of hot desks and spaces and, where not possible, for example, call centres or training facilities, cleaning and sanitising workstations between different occupants including shared equipment.
To review the full UK government guidance for offices you can do so here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres
At Incube we have worked closely with facilities teams from Commercial Real Estate landlords and tenants to create a Back to Work strategy called Office 2M. You can learn more about Office 2M and download our ‘Back to Work’ strategy pack here: https://incube.space/office-2m/