UK lockdown reopening – what do offices need to know?

Lockdown restrictions across the UK are relaxing, with many premises reopening and workers returning to the office. Over the coming weeks and months, the government roadmap outlines the changes in guidance and adjusted measures on the path to reopening whilst also minimising the excessive spread of the coronavirus.  According to RICS UK Facilities Management Survey, respondents are expecting up to 80% of employees will make the return to their workplace (a figure which is a lot lower in London). There’s a lot for businesses to consider and do beforehand to ensure compliance, resilience and reduce business disruptions in the future.

How offices and businesses can prepare for re-opening.

  • Conduct a risk assessment.

This is the first important step. Identifying what work actions might cause the increased spread of the virus and how to mitigate this. Also identifying which team members might be most at risk due to job or health, and how can they be kept safe.  HSE website offers excellent guidance on a return to work risk assessment.

  • Conduct a property inspection.

Ensuring the building is safe to return to and compliant with government safety measures is the next important step. Conducting a Vacant Property Inspection to understand any repairs needed. Any mothballed buildings should be safely reactivated according to SFG30, especially with COVID guidelines in mind.

  • Make safety adjustments.

One-way routes may need to be mapped out and tested, signage and protective screens installed, sanitisation stations set up, shifts staggered to ease any pressure on safety measures.

  • Train security.

Security teams will need to be informed of new routes, layout adjustments and be given time to familiarise themselves with these changes. It’s imperative they are up-to-date on current government and organisational protocols precautionary measures.

  • Order PPE.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be ordered in advance with careful consideration of how many team members will require it.

  • Arrange rapid lateral flow tests.

The UK government is currently offering businesses with 10 or more employees free rapid lateral flow tests. The deadline is April 12th and you can register here.

  • Collaborate with Front of House teams.

Working in collaboration with Front of House (FOH) teams ensures adaptations are made to keep them safe and any challenges are met. In many offices and businesses, FOH staff are at the frontline of the pandemic and the ones most at risk.

  • Communicate changes to employees.

Many staff might have been isolated from the rest of the workforce for a long time. Before their return, it’s important to communicate all changes clearly to all employees and set their expectations early, so they are aware and ready to comply.

  • Dedicate time for wellbeing reviews.

The last year of turbulence, uncertainty and high pressure can take its toll on people mentally and physically. Taking extra time early in the reopening process will help prevent burnout or other problems later. Checking in with employee wellbeing is something often overlooked but needed more than ever. Some might need extra provisions, support, or care to adjust to the new working environment especially if they have been working from home or furloughed for most of the last year.

If you found this blog useful, you may also be interested to know more about Vacant Property Inspections.