Distancing rules and the impact on returning to work
An estimated 60% of staff might not be allowed back to work as lockdown measures are eased because businesses would have to adhere to social distancing measures. This is the view of a health and safety company which contends many companies and organisations just won’t have the space to accommodate the two-metre rule.
UK based health and safety firm Protecting.co.uk says that this will have a huge impact on the way businesses across the country will operate, and worries about those in professions where social distancing just isn’t possible.
“These measures mean that for some people such as hairdressers and driving instructors, going back to work is not an option right now,” says company spokesman Mark Hall. “But overall, our safety and the safety of others is the biggest priority.”
Although keyworkers have been working hard to keep the country going through these extraordinary circumstances, many people have found themselves working from home or being furloughed for weeks on end. Workers who have been called back into the office can expect to see some big changes to their workplaces, as businesses will have strict rules in order to guarantee the safety of staff.
Protecting.co.uk say that measures staff can expect to see include –
- One-way systems around the workplace
- Markings on the floor to indicate spacings
- Cubicles and partitions to allow for barriers between workers
- PPE use such as masks and gloves if necessary
- More handwashing stations available
- Increased cleaning of equipment and regular deep cleans
Company spokesperson Mark Hall says: “People may find that the layout of their workplace has changed so that each worker has their own designated space away from everyone else.”
“But this might mean that some desks and work stations will have to be removed or left unused to make sure that social distancing measures are met, so fewer people will be able to go into work.”
Due to the spacing out of staff to meet social distancing requirements, Protecting.co.uk estimates that 60% of the workforce won’t be able to return to workplaces at the moment.
Hall says: “We’ve never experienced anything like this before, so it leaves a lot of people who are currently unable to go to work in a very uncertain position.”
Protecting.co.uk has heard from dozens of workers who are itching to get back to work, such as one office worker who has been placed on furlough, who tells us she is unable to work from home and her workplace cannot have everyone back due to social distancing.
Hayley asks: “Why can’t staff be put on different shift patterns, like week on/week off, or working mornings or afternoons? That way everyone gets to go to work, but there’s fewer people in the building.”
Factory workers face the same dilemma. How can they work effectively when they can’t come into contact with their workmates?
Worse, the furlough scheme doesn’t cover self-employed workers, who are often those who work in closest proximity to the public such as hairdressers, mechanics and driving instructors.
These hardest hit workers have had to register for government support through Universal Credit and are unlikely to return to employment until social distancing measures are no longer needed.
How long until people can get back to work?
The best guess at the moment, is that we are likely to live in a socially distanced society until a vaccine against Covid-19 is made available. “Until we are certain that the infection rate has dropped, most likely due to a vaccine, it’s really unlikely that we can return to the way things were pre-Covid 19” says spokesman Mark Hall.
But after so long of living in these conditions, some people think we might see new ways of working emerge, as some businesses have proven that they can be just as productive with staff members working from home.**
Hall says that many have got used to a new flexible approach with working from home, saving them money with commuting and childcare costs, and striking a better work/life balance. “Who knows, in the future people may just see coming into the office as nothing more than an expensive commute.”