Getting Back to the Office After Covid-19
2020, is a year that changed almost every aspect of life as we knew it. Covid-19 caused a global pandemic and is sited to be one of the biggest illnesses in 100 years.
On 16th March 2020, we heard the announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnston to stop all non-essential contact and travel. A week later, on 23rd March 2020 an official lockdown (otherwise known as lockdown 1) was imposed on the United Kingdom. Offices were suddenly closed and we descended home with our laptops under our arms to embark on a working from home journey…
Social distancing restrictions are slowly beginning to ease across the United Kingdom, but what does that mean with work? We were so used to going to a place of work for our jobs what is the ‘new normal’ for businesses and colleagues now? Do we continue to work from home or go back to our offices? And if so, when?
In this blog, we’ll be covering the current Covid-19 office working restrictions and requirements for offices in the United Kingdom, what businesses can do to support the return to work and provide the necessary safety measures, wellbeing and motivation required to make the transition back to work an enjoyable one for everyone involved!
Current Covid-19 Office Restrictions and Requirements
What actions do employers need to take to ensure colleagues are kept safe and feel comfortable whilst at their place of work?
At present, the guidelines for working in an office are as follows:
- Work from home if you can. Those who can, should continue to work from home
- Organise the office layout to allow for social distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with additional measures put in place (Click here for additional measures).
- Work out how many people can work at a safe, social distance at any one time
- Consider staggering start and finishing times, consider how many people can cross building and office thresholds safely by reviewing entry and exit points.
- Minimise visitors and face-to-face meetings. Encourage telephone calls, video calls and conferences over meeting colleagues and in person.
- Arrange for a more frequent and deeper cleaning of the office space
- Have extra hand washing facilities on the premises
Check out the link to government website here for more details on working safely during Covid-19.
The Next Government Review
The next review on social distancing is due on 17th May 2021. This is when we’ll hear more government guidelines on when we go back to work and what that looks like.
Many companies are using 21st June 2021 as a date for when offices will re-open in some shape or form.
Office Safety Requirements
Below is a guide to the actions companies can take to ensure the safety and wellbeing of colleagues in the transition in going back to work that act as preventative measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 & keep your team safe.
A carefully planned office, clear office layout, Covid-19 graphics, desk screens and hand sanitiser stations will all play a part in making the office a safe space.
Office Socially Distanced Floor Plan
First and foremost, companies need a plan.
Consider how and when colleagues enter and exit the building, where teams will sit and how to meet social distancing requirements.
Soulful Creative Social Distanced Office Floor Plan Copyright © Soulful Creative 2020
As you can see from one our Soulful Creative Floor Plan Examples, Floor plans make it clear for colleagues to easily identify entrances, desk layouts and hand sanitation stations.
This illustrates to colleagues that their safety has been considered, planned and that they are in a safe space at their place of work. When placed in various parts of the office it also acts as a reminder of what is required of colleagues themselves to make it a safe space for everyone.
Clear Desk Screens
Desk screens can work well in many ways in the office.
Where space is an issue, desk screens act as a level of protection whilst the clear acrylic allows colleagues to have the necessary visibility to maintain the much-missed communication with team members.
Where space isn’t an issue, desk screens act as an additional layer of protection for colleagues whilst socially distancing. Though clear, the desk partitions act as a subtle reminder to colleagues to maintain a distance at their desks.
Soulful Creative Clear Desk Screens Copyright © Soulful Creative 2021
Click here to see the various Soulful Creative clear screen options available.
Regulation Office Graphics: Covid-19 Workplace Signage, Signs, Stickers & Graphics
This type of graphic is known as a form of Regulation Wayfinding. They are indications of rules, warnings and laws.
Getting our workplaces back up and running to the ‘new normal’ health and safety standards means we all need to take responsibility and do our bit to help with the safe transition back to work. Visual aids help navigate colleagues in and around the office environment and provide a level of safety and wellbeing for everyone during this transitional time.
Desk Spacing GraphicsBelow are some examples of Soulful Creative Desk Graphics that are placed on desks that are not in use as a visual aid for colleagues to clearly see what desks are not in use to help with office social distancing.
Soulful Creative Desk Graphic Layout Example Copyright © Soulful Creative 2021
Social Distance Stairs & Floor Graphics
Highly effective means of communicating key COVID-19 safety messages to staff and visitors alike.
Signs and graphics to assist with social distancing in the workplace. As we all adjust to life in the ‘new normal’, these are designed as important yet informal salient reminders to ‘stay alert’
Soulful Creative Floor & Stairs Graphics Copyright © Soulful Creative 2020
Social Distancing graphics in lift lobbies and by lifts add yet another layer of protection and a visual reminder to colleagues on lift etiquette during this transitional time of ‘new normal’.
Soulful Creative Lift Graphics Copyright © Soulful Creative 2020
Lifts are often the most efficient form of transportation for colleagues to get to their offices in large buildings so it’s important that these areas remain operational and are utlised in the safest way possible.
We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again. Keep your distance!
It may not be possible for colleagues to maintain the required two metre distance entering into the building but there are a few actions that can be taken to help.
Soulful Creative Queuing Lines Graphics Copyright © Soulful Creative 2021
As mentioned before stagger start and finishing times as much as possible. Wear a face covering entering the building and lift. Ideally one person should use a lift at a time. However, when it is not possible to have one person using a lift, limit how many people can enter/travel in a lift at any one time in accordance to the building’s Covid-19 regulations. Use queuing lines in lift lobbies to ensure social distancing is adhered to. Arrange for lifts to be cleaned regularly throughout the day so that high traffic that get touched frequently such as buttons, doors, hand rails etc are disinfected. It is also good practice for colleagues to wash their hands and use hand sanitiser upon entry to the building and throughout the day.
Regulation Office Graphics: Covid-19 Work Information Banners, Posters & Desk Cards
Clear and consistent communication helps to colleagues feel safe and to work together to work through this transitional time.
Banners, posters and desk cards are big, bold and clear indications to colleagues and visitors alike that your business is taking their health and safety at work seriously.
Whilst we want colleagues to feel safe and comfortable during their work day, we also understand that it is easy to become complacent so its important place reminders of what is required from everyone.
Banners and posters can be used to display key information in their specified area(s) to communicate regulations and requirements.
Soulful Creative Banners, Posters & Desk Cards Graphics Copyright © Soulful Creative 2021
It is important that we work together, to empower each other in the transition back to normality. Part of this is getting back to the workplace!
As you can see, a combination of planning, clear health and safety regulations and visually impactful graphic solutions all work together as tools to empower us in this ever-changing time.
The next announcement on social distancing in the workplace is due on 17th May 2021. We’ll keep you updated with the key changes, how they impact the office and what action we can take to get back to a new-normal in the workplace after Covid-19.
Soulful Creative offers a full creative design service that can transform your office.
For a free consultation, contact Soulful Creative if you’d like to have some Soulful magic injected into your workspace.
In our next blog, we’ll be discussing how motivational graphics and murals can help in motivating our colleagues in the workplace. In the meantime, check out our other blogs.