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Robert Irving Burns

Four Things to Consider When Reopening Offices

April 23, 2020    |   Panny Antoniou

With widespread discussions on an exit plan and a return to work for many people, these are some of the things which you should consider when looking to reopen your office:

  1. Ensure you have a Social Distancing Plan in place:

Despite being allowed to commute and go back to the office, the threat from Coronavirus will not be completely eliminated without a vaccine. This means that any office which is looking to reopen their doors to staff and clients must have a plan in place to keep people apart from each other. Methods to do this can include a phased return to work with people only working in the office on certain days so that there is adequate space between desks, utilising boardrooms and breakout areas to ensure there is adequate place for people to socially distance, as well as setting rules for lift and stair use and ensuring staff adhere to them. This is the single most vital way to prevent a second spike of coronavirus. The exact nature of any social distancing plan will differ depending on the office and what facilities are available, bringing us neatly on to the next step when looking to reopen an office.

  1. Evaluate your building:

Each office differs due to the facilities available and there are a number of factors to consider which will differ depending on your space. Are your offices self-contained or do you share facilities with other tenants? If you share toilets, kitchens, boardrooms, breakout areas, or other facilities with other businesses, it is important to ensure that all tenants within the building are on the same page. In addition, you must evaluate the high risk areas of your office which are touched often including (but not limited to) bathroom taps, door handles, computer keyboards, phones, computer mice, and stationary cupboards and have a cleaning plan for all high risk areas within your office. Another thing to consider is having a designated isolation room for any members of staff who begin displaying symptoms. If you are in serviced offices, this may be the responsibility of your serviced office provider so ensure they have a plan in place.

  1. Building Access:

This again is unique to each building and business and if you are in serviced offices, this may be the responsibility of your serviced office provider. Does your business have regular visitors? If so, then do you have a plan in place to ensure that guidelines are adhered to by all visitors? If your business does not have regular visitors, there are still a number of access issues to consider. If your business has multiple entries, you should consider limiting the entry points in order to minimise risk, front receptions with touchscreens, magazines, or other high risk surfaces which people are likely to touch and may harbour the virus should be removed to ensure guest safety. Hand sanitiser should also be provided at all doorways and entrances to ensure regular cleaning, minimising viral transmission risk.

  1. Emergency & Contingency Planning:

Every business which reopens should have a comprehensive plan to deal with an outbreak as well as designated staff members who are trained to deal with this crisis. Specific roles for team members within this emergency plan can include a PPC coordinator, quarantine marshals in the event that a member of staff displays symptoms of the virus, and deliveries clerks who receive and sanitise all items ordered. In addition, it is vital for any organisation thinking about reopening to keep adequate lines of communication between teams and to keep track of the prevailing situation – there is no guarantee that there will not be a second lockdown and businesses which are allowed to reopen may be forced to close once again.

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