How Will UK Businesses Return To The Office in a Covid-Friendly Way?

The long-awaited return to the office is imminent for many UK businesses

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עסקים קטנים אחרי משבר
עסקים קטנים אחרי משבר
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The long-awaited return to the office is imminent for many UK businesses. After over a year away from the office due to the coronavirus, many are eager to get back to the workplace.

However, the office return is not without its issues. More than ever before, public health has come under the spotlight.

Now, when returning to the workplace, health and safety are of paramount importance. Here we explore how to return to the office in the most covid-friendly way.

Separated Seating

Social distancing has been one of the key buzz terms over the last year. World health organisations have consistently advised a minimum of between 1 and 2 metres of distance in between people at all times. This may mean installing dividers between seats or desks.

When returning to the workplace, social distancing will remain in place. A way to help implement this is through the office layout itself. By separating seating and keeping desks separated by distances of at least 1 metre, it sets clear distancing guidelines for the staff.

Something that employers may also choose to do, in order to help keep staff separate, is removing any social areas such as sofas or communal seating.

Additionally, large gatherings should be avoided. This is as important for things such as the number of participants in physical attendance of meetings as it is for social gatherings such as eating lunch together.

Staggered Timing

Adjusting timetables has been a technique explored by schools and offices across the United Kingdom over the last year. This looks different across different businesses.

For some companies, this could mean different staff coming into the office for certain hours of the day or even certain days of the week. For others, it may just mean staggering entry and exit in order to avoid too much crossover and concentration of people.

Depending on the physical office space, there can also be different entry and exit points for different staff departments.

Ventilation

Circulation of air has been implicated as one of the key things that we should be doing in order to avoid contamination as bringing outdoor air inside decreases the concentration of pollutants in the air. In addition to keeping windows open to allow for circulation of fresh air, this can also mean the implementation of specific ventilation systems.

Using fans, exhaust vents, air conditions and air filters can help to reduce heavy moisture or toxic chemicals in the air and maximise air circulation.

Hygiene Measures

Access to disinfectants, water and soap should be readily available when returning to the office - especially upon entering and exiting the building and in meeting rooms. Entry points of the building should not only have hand sanitiser, but also facilities for staff to disinfect their shoes such as doormats with chemical solutions.

Workplaces may wish to upgrade their services and materials to be fully hygienic. Products available from the likes of Trovex offer washrooms, doorsets, wall units and wall cladding to be impermeable to moisture and bacteria. Whilst these are commonly used for hospitals so they are hygienic and easy-to-clean, we may find these specialist surfaces being introduced into schools and offices.

Masks should be worn when face-to-face interaction is strictly necessary and physical contact, such as hand shakes, should be avoided completely.

Staff should be actively encouraged to clean their personal workspaces with special attention for those items which are most frequently touched such as the desk surface, computer keyboard and mouse



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