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Monday, May 10, 2021

Documents reveal how workplaces might change when lockdown is eased

The new guidance includes staggering arrival times, sitting employees facing away from each other and washing uniforms on site.

Staggering shift times, reducing face-to-face interaction and keeping lifts half-empty are some of the workplace measures the government is considering as it looks to ease the lockdown.

Seven government documents, drawn up by cabinet office minister Michael Gove and business secretary Alok Sharma, have revealed what guidance will be given as people are allowed to gradually return to work.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce the relaxation of some of the coronavirus lockdown measures this week.

According to the draft documents, businesses with more than five employees must provide a risk assessment of working conditions if they are to be able to reopen.

Shielded "extremely vulnerable" people - such as those with various cancers or severe respiratory conditions - will still have to work from home, and non-shielded "vulnerable" people should still work from home wherever possible.

Those who are able to work from home should continue to do so.

The guidance states: "It will not always be possible to keep a distance of 2m. In these circumstances both employers and employees must do everything they reasonably can to reduce risk."

"The government is clear that workers will not be forced into an unsafe workplace," it adds.

Below is the guidance for a number of sectors.

General guidance for all workplaces

Providing equipment for staff to work effectively and safely from home where possible

Facing employees away from each other or side-to-side where possible, so they are not face-to-face

Staggering shift times and break times

Providing staff with packaged meals instead of using canteens

Handwashing or hand sanitisers at entrances and exits

Changing seating, tables and layouts so staff work further apart and reduce face-to-face interaction

Reducing maximum occupancy for lifts and regulating use of corridors, lifts and staircases

Providing hand sanitiser for the operation of lifts and encouraging use of stairs

Monitoring the wellbeing of colleagues working from home and offering support

Getting staff to change into uniforms on site, providing storage for clothes and bags, and washing uniforms on site rather than at home

Having separate entry and exit points to the building, and introducing one-way flow routes

Reducing congestion by having more entry points

Using floor tape or paint to mark out two-metre distances

Discouraging non-essential trips within buildings and sites

Reducing job and location rotation - this could involve assigning employees to specific floors

Providing more parking or bike racks

Providing protective screening for staff in receptions or similar areas

Using screens to create physical barriers between people where possible

Alternatives to touch-based security devices such as keypads


Where possible, office staff should continue to work from home, although those in roles critical for business or who cannot work from home due to personal circumstances can go in.

Businesses should plan for the minimum number of people to be on site

Avoiding use of hot desks

Using remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings

Avoiding transmission during meetings, for example avoiding sharing pens and other objects

Only absolutely necessary participants should attend meetings

Providing hand sanitation in meeting rooms

Holding meetings in well-ventilated rooms, where possible

Using outside areas for breaks

Limiting use of high-touch items and shared office equipment

Hotels and restaurants

All food and drink outlets should serve takeaways only, and seated restaurants and cafe areas must be closed

Bar areas must be closed

Using signage to make clear these areas are closed

Minimising the number of people in kitchens and reducing interaction between kitchen workers and other workers, including during breaks

Spacing workstations two metres apart as much as possible

Consider cleanable panels to separate workstations in bigger kitchens

Minimising access to walk-in pantries, fridges and freezers

Minimising contact at "handover" points with other staff, including delivery drivers

Using a "grab and go" service or room service for hotel guests

Hand sanitiser for visitors

Avoiding crowded reception areas - staggering check-in and check-out times or placing two metre markers on the floor

Carrying out essential services and contractor visits at night where possible

Reducing the number of guests who can stay in a single room, particularly in dormitories

Interacting with guests via phone, emails and guest apps

Encouraging customers to order online or via phone to avoid queues

Serving customers in walk-in takeaways with tills two metres away from the kitchen, ideally behind a screen and separated from the kitchen by a partition or wall

Using contactless payments

Marking out two-metre distances for customers queuing

Enhancing cleaning and providing signage on good hygiene practices

Limiting access to premises for people waiting for takeaways. Asking customers to wait in their cars

Workers in other people's homes

No work should be carried out in a household where a person is isolating or has been asked to shield

Avoiding face-to-face contact with vulnerable people in households

Contacting households ahead of the visit to discuss how to minimise risk

Wash hands on arrival and maintain social distancing

Travel to the site using your own transport where possible, or limit the number of people per vehicle if this cannot be avoided

Match workers to households local to them to minimise transportation

Workers should bring their own food and take breaks outside

Limit time spent in close proximity to no more than 15 minutes

Identifying busy areas across the household where people travel to, from or through, for example, stairs and corridors

Asking that households leave all internal doors open

Allocating the same worker to the same household each time there is a visit

Limiting the number of workers in a confined space

Avoiding direct contact where possible

Using electronic payment methods

Factories and warehouses

Limited number of people in company vehicles

Regularly cleaning work areas, equipment, tools, vehicles and reusable delivery boxes

Cleaning equipment, tools and vehicles after each use and at the end of each shift

Regularly cleaning objects and services

Servicing and adjusting ventilation systems

Removing waste at the end of a shift

Hand sanitiser for employees to use boarding vehicles or handling deliveries

Minimising use of portable toilets

Keeping a record of visitors

Shops and branches

Defining the number of customers that can reasonably follow two-metre social distancing within the store, taking into account total floorspace and busy areas

Limiting the number of customers at any one time

Suspending customer services which cannot comply with social distancing

Encouraging customers to shop alone

Updating plans for store traffic and queue management, and using outside areas for queuing such as car parks

Shopping centres should regulate the number of customers

Informing customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times

Continuing to keep customer restaurants and/or cafes closed until further notice, unless offering hot or cold food to be consumed off the premises

Providing guidance to people on arrival

Restocking/replenishing outside of store operating hours

Working outdoors

Only workers deemed necessary to carry out physical work or supervision should physically attend

In an emergency (for example, an accident, fire, break-in or trespass), people do not have to stay two metres apart if it would be unsafe

Providing signage to inform the public what work is taking place and to remind them to maintain social distancing

Providing any necessary training for people who act as hosts for visitors

Working in a vehicle

Making sure vehicles are well-ventilated

Reducing the number of employees at base depots or distribution centres

Scheduling collection times

Avoiding interacting with the driver when loading goods onto vehicles

Minimising contact during payments or exchange of documentation

Regularly cleaning vehicles

Making sure the same people are paired together if they must be in close proximity

Non-contact deliveries where possible

Limiting exposure to large crowds and rush hours

Having single employees load or unload vehicles

Having drivers stay in their vehicles if possible

Preparing for goods to be dropped off to a previously agreed area to avoid transmission, eg. click and collect

Keeping hand sanitiser or wipes within vehicles


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