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How do we return to the office safely in the age of Covid?

How do we return to the office safely in the age of Covid?

Covid 19 has been part of our lives for over six months now, and though there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the air, the one thing that is a given is that we need to learn how to combat it while still going about our day to day lives.

Most of us who are fortunate enough, have been able to work from home since the beginning of lockdown, and though that might be preferred by some, it’s not possible to maintain indefinitely.

Thousands of words have been written in the past few months about the benefits of home working and work life balance, but there’s no denying the fact that we all benefit from time in the office where we get to interact with colleagues, share ideas and communicate more effectively, particularly in the case of younger or less experienced colleagues.  A lot can also be said for video meeting fatigue too, but that’s for another time.

Besides the fact that the government wants us to return to the office for the benefit of the economy and our managers are keen to restore some normality, they also want us to do so safely. In fact the Bank of England advised a cautious approach, so what's the right thing to do? There’s no point going back to the office in order to be riddled by anxiety about insufficient protective measures or lack of appropriate planning.

So what do we do?

In order to return to the office, safely there’s a number of steps that should be considered in order to ensure everyone physical and emotional wellbeing.

Plan

Are your desks really close together under normal circumstances? If so, consider the possibility of taking some of them out, or allocating “sitting” and “distancing” desks so that people don’t feel worried about being cramped too closely together. If that’s not a possibility install Perspex separators between desks, which will limit the circulation of particles from one desk to another while people are speaking to each other or on the phone. Installing hand sanitisers near entrances will also remind people to sanitise their hands every time they need to enter or exit a space, which will ensure viral hot spots like door handles will remain relatively clean.

Stagger

Do your staff need to be in every day? If that’s not absolutely necessary, consider staggering office days to every other so that the office isn’t at full capacity at all times, allowing for social distancing measures to be maintained. If alternate days aren’t an option, consider a shift pattern where half the staff come in in the morning and the rest in the afternoon and provide thorough cleaning in between each shift. Cleaning crews should also be on hand throughout the day to sanitise communal areas such as bathrooms and kitchens multiple times a day.

Go hands free

Adapt your kitchen spaces for contactless traffic. Consider open plan kitchens which remove the need to touch door handles and invest in foot operated bins, motion activated taps and water dispensers as well as encouraging everyone to use the same set of cuttery and crockery over the course of the day as well as wash and store them away from communal areas.

Focus on ventilation 

Over the course of the summer a well ventilated space offered a source of some comfort in terms of combatting Covid-19. Now as winter is slowly creeping in that won’t be an option, especially as heating becomes necessary and more people stay in the office to stay warm.

Installing a high end filtration system that frequently refreshes the purifies the air in the room is a good idea, provided the space isn’t as full as it was before the onset of the pandemic. Doing your homework is vital as is partnering with industry experts in order to create the best outcome for everyone.

As specialists in commercial relocation, space management and life sciences’ logistics we’re more than qualified to assist you with your workplace concerns when it comes to covid-proofing your space. If you have any questions about the layout of your space or are considering going agile and don’t know where to start we’re here to advise and support.

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