As lockdown slowly lifts and more business and workplaces become operational again, businesses and employers will have to think long and hard about how they implement and maintain the measures necessary to ensure the safety of their employees, including social distancing. There are also issues for landlords and managers of multi-tenanted buildings.
Many employers will be keen to get their employees back into the workplace for many reasons. Working from home for such a long period of time has been a real challenge in terms of maintaining morale, risk management and quality control. There is also the issue of the wellbeing of staff. Although lots of people have enjoyed the freedom of working from home, many crave the normality of office life.
Currently, workers should remain working from home if they are able to and this looks to be the policy for the foreseeable future but places of work will need to look ahead and plan. Many businesses are already thinking about what returning to the work place will look like and what strategies have to be implemented.
This will need to be even more carefully considered in multi-tenanted properties where a co-ordinated approach may need to be discussed carefully with the tenants in the building.
Key elements for consideration include:
- Discussions need to be had with those that rely on public transport to get to work. Can they continue to work from home? Can they walk or cycle and can you help them with this?
- Staggered start and finish times to help the flow of people in and out of the building.
- Can those with long journeys continue to work from home?
- Collaborative discussions with all tenants to establish the best possible plans for travel and/or maintaining working from home where possible.
- Measures will need to be put in place to minimise contact with people entering the building and ‘high-contact’ areas of the building including communal areas.
- One way systems around the building to help the flow of people and maintain social distancing.
- Use of common facilities to be controlled and monitored to reduce risk.
- Can doors/windows be left open? Is this a security risk?
- Hand sanitizer should be readily available for use as well as hand washing facilities and signage to encourage the same.
- Will concierge/additional staff be needed to maintain and control the flow of people especially in smaller areas such as stairwells and lifts?
- Proper planning will be essential in ensuring the smooth transition back to work and ensure that all tenants and staff are considered and protected.
- A full strategy with policies and procedures will need to be compiled and implemented ideally in co-ordination with tenant representatives who should be consulted.
- Employees will need to be fully briefed on the new measures.
- Will PPE be needed and/or provided? Will it be part of the policy that tenants must implement this in their own plans to protect staff and other tenants?
These items are likely to come at additional cost and landlords and/or property managers should therefore look to provide cost estimates to the tenants if it is proposed to recover these through the service charge regime.
Many businesses moved to large proportions of the workforce working from home within a matter of days. The transition back to the workplace looks like it will take longer to plan and much longer to implement.
If you would like any further advice then please get in contact with one of our team.