How to implement social distancing measures in your office
June 9, 2020
COVID-19 has led to the government imposing strict social distancing measures in an attempt to fight the spread of the virus. These regulations have caused unprecedented disruption to people, businesses, and economies across the country. In particular, COVID-19 has forced many companies to work remotely for the first time and adapt their business operations to comply with government guidelines. The government recently released an update advising that social distancing measures are due to be relaxed over the coming weeks. This means that businesses should be able to start gradually returning to the workplace.

However, the easing of regulations certainly does not signal an end to the pandemic and COVID-19 rules. Companies must continue to follow government guidance and maintain two metre social distancing in the workplace where possible. Managers must carefully consider how they are going to maintain social distancing and protect employees against the risk of infection in the workplace. The return to work must be well-planned and employee safety should be a top priority for all businesses. With this in mind, here is some advice on how to implement social distancing measures in your office:

Keep workstations two metres apart

The government has advised that people should maintain a social distance of two metres to protect themselves against COVID-19. The virus is most commonly spread from symptomatic people to others who are in close contact through respiratory droplets or direct contact. Research shows that the closer you are to someone, the higher your risk of infection. For that reason, companies should help safeguard their employees from infection by keeping workstations two metres apart. While this will not eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus, it should greatly reduce the chances of catching COVID-19 through close contact with an infected person. You should consider investing in desk management software to help you automate desk allocation and improve overall efficiency. Our desk management platform SEDES allows members of staff to book their workstation in advance using a secure online platform. This creates a more flexible working environment and desks can be allocated in a way that ensures social distancing is met.

Stagger shifts and breaks

Another effective way to maintain the recommended social distancing in the workplace is by staggering employee shifts and breaks. Staggered shifts will help to minimise the volume of people in your buildings at one time, and prevent crowding in areas such as food courts and staff break rooms. Staggered shifts and hours can also help ease congestion on public transport and in local amenities such as supermarkets and cafes. You can find plenty of useful advice on how to implement a staggered shift programme in the workplace. This strategy must be accompanied by high standards of hygiene and regular cleaning to be effective. Installing staff lockers, like those offered by eLocker, will encourage employees to keep their belongings stored out of the way, thus supporting a clean desk policy. You should also consider using a tool to allow staff to move their work equipment from their desk to their locker safely. For example, a hotbox will enable employees to move their working equipment efficiently whilst complying with social distancing requirements.

Create one way systems

One simple way to ensure that social distancing is being met in the workplace is by creating one way systems. These should be implemented in corridors, walkways, and communal areas such as the staff kitchen. This will help prevent congestion in these areas and avoid staff having to pass each other in tight areas. You should consider placing markers on the office floor to notify employees of the two metre rule. This will act as a useful guide to encourage staff to maintain social distancing at all times. If your office building uses lifts, then you should also consider enforcing a life policy, such as one-in-one-out, to prevent crowding and reduce the risk of infection.

Use the above suggestions to help you maintain social distancing and plan a safe return to the workplace!