As people are slowly returning to the office, undoubtedly, some things are going to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has shaken the world. But some people might be glad to be rid of their turn to sort the tea round, and team meetings in beer gardens don’t sound that bad, do they?
The BBC has made predictions as to the typical work situation in 2025, illustrating how the ‘new normal’ is just ‘normal’ in five years time. However, in the shorter-term viewpoint, there are a lot of changes that need to be made to maintain employee safety.
Businesses will have to implement many creative measures to enforce hygiene and social distancing in the office. Tea rounds could be banned, and team meetings would be held in outdoor venues such as beer gardens or outdoor coffee shops, a study from HR experts Citation has suggested.
Gillian McAteer, Citation’s head of employment law, said: “Businesses may need to implement a number of creative measures in order to enforce hygiene, safety and social distancing in the office. It could also require them to entirely re-think whole areas of their workplace, including break areas, toilets and meeting rooms.”
The report, ‘The Future Of The Workplace’, proposes changes such as isometric floor plans illustrating how various areas of the workplace, such as toilets, receptions, kitchens, and common areas will look in the post-lockdown reality.
Futurologist Dr Ian Pearson, who contributed to the study, suggested meetings to help outside on nice days, as it would be much safer than it being held indoors. The wind will blow any viruses away, and the sunlight will help keep things sterile.
He suggested beer gardens and outdoor coffee shops but did add that there would need to be an element of common sense involved.
The study also sends a warning that areas such as kitchens and break areas will be very challenging for businesses once employees return to the workplace. Lunchtimes will need to be staggered, and employees should not share plates, utensils, mugs and kitchenware to avoid cross-contamination.
Dr Pearson said that employees need to be much more vigilant in the office, and some rituals such as the tea round will need to be forgotten. Workers need to be mindful of their personal hygiene, as well as continually asking themselves: ‘Is someone else going to be touching this same surface?’
Citation’s report suggests other changes that businesses could implement, such as hygiene stations on every desk, installing automatic doors and UV light disinfectants that can kill up to 96 per cent of the coronavirus in 30 minutes.
Citation’s Gillian McAteer added that ti is likely the case that many employees will now continue to work from home, only coming into the office for meetings and tasks that cannot be done remotely, but in instances where staff are required to attend the office, they should expect to see big changes.
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