On Sunday night, 10th May, Boris Johnson addressed the Nation and announced a “conditional plan” to reopen society and take England out of the current lockdown.
Life will not return to our old normal anytime soon and we will have to get used to maintaining social distancing for some time yet.
UK Government are understandably trying to strike a balance between reopening the economy and keeping this terrible disease at bay. The measures announced encourage a very gradual return to “normal” but continues to stress the importance of taking sensible precautions.
Every organisation should now be making plans to operate under this new “normal” for at least the next year.
I hope COVID-19 can act as the catalyst for more organisations to reimagine how their workplaces can be healthier, higher performing, more productive, and great places to work once we can achieve a full return to work.
I would encourage everyone to use this period to identify which creative, collaborative, and other functions must take place in a shared workplace and which functions can be successfully delivered remotely. This will allow you to identify what percentage of your current workplaces and real estate is required post COVID-19. It is far better to invest this money in your staff rather than expensive real estate.
The UK Government advice Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) sets out five steps for each organisation to take to demonstrate that they are COVID-19 secure. These are:
- To carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and share the results with their staff and people who work in the business
- To implement cleaning, handwashing, and hygiene procedures in line with guidance
- To take all reasonable steps to help people work from home
- To take all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
- And finally, where people cannot be 2m apart, to do everything practical to manage transmission risk
In addition to the Government guidance, advice from global organisations who have already successfully reopened their workplaces in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and Singapore suggests that measures should focus on covering the user journey through your workplaces, buildings and estate.
These experiences have highlighted:
- That occupiers of high-rise buildings need to consider their choke points – lifts, in particular.
- That Employers also need to ensure their buildings still meet statutory obligations before occupation – that planned preventative maintenance has been completed during lock-down and that emergency arrangements will be satisfied with partial occupation.
- And there are real challenges when it comes to catering, (if you continue to provide this option) – you will need to ensure that caterers have received toolbox talks for social distancing back of house, as well as measures to control the front of house.
Our team at LCMB have written “Managing a safe return to our workplaces” with our tips on how to speedily get back online, and links to more detailed technical guidance to help you navigate this challenging transition.
I hope you; your families and colleagues manage to stay safe as you navigate your return to work and do get in touch if we can help you in anyway.
For more information on managing a safe return to workplaces, click here.
John O’Brien is the Founder and Managing Director of LCMB Building Performance Ltd. LCMB is a business which aims to make a difference for their customers by delivering healthier, higher performing, workplaces and buildings that consume less resource. John can be contacted on t: 01295 722823, m: 07711 032137, e: [email protected]
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