This sector guidance covers those who work in offices, contact centres, operations rooms and other similar indoor environments.

Who should go to work

Everyone who is able to do so should work from home. Organisations therefore need to consider:

a) Who works in a role critical for business and operational continuity, safe facility management or regulatory requirements which cannot be performed remotely.

b) Who works in a critical role which might be performed remotely, but cannot be due to home circumstances. Organisations should plan for the minimum number of people being needed on site to operate safely and effectively.

Social distancing at work

Social distancing measures in respect of coming to and leaving work can include staggering arrival and departure times, creating more entry points into buildings, introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points, providing handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser at entry and exit points and providing alternatives to touch-based security devices, such as key pads.

Movement around the premises can be reduced by restricting access to some areas, encouraging the use of telephones or radios, reducing job and equipment rotation, introducing more one-way flow through buildings and regulating the use of high traffic areas such as corridors, lifts, turnstiles and walkways.

In respect of ensuring social distancing at workstations, employers will need to review layouts and processes to allow people to work further apart from each other, using floor tape or markings to help workers maintain a two metre distance, and if for any reason it is not possible to move desks two metres apart, arranging for people to work side-by-side or facing away from one another and to use screens to separate people. In addition, occupancy levels should be managed but hot desking should be avoided where it is possible to do so.  

As well as on the office floor, social distancing must also be maintained in meetings. They should be held outside or in well ventilated rooms and only include absolutely necessary participants. Everyone should always maintain a two metre distance, hand sanitiser should be available to those attending and the sharing of pens and other objects should be avoided. To assist with social distancing in common areas, a collaborative approach must be adopted with landlords and other tenants and specific measures include staggered breaks, safe outside areas to use for breaks, installing screens to protect staff in receptions or similar areas and encouraging staff to bring their own food into work. In addition, consideration should be given to reconfiguring seating and tables to maintain spacing and encouraging staff to remain on-site and maintaining social distancing while off-site.

Managing customers, visitors and contractors

Employers should encourage visits via remote connection or remote working if at all possible, to minimise the number of visits. Where site visits are required, site guidance on social distancing and hygiene should be explained to visitors on or before arrival, the number of visitors should be limited, they should be allotted a specific time to visit and access should be restricted for anyone else seeking to attend the premises. A review should also be undertaken of entry and exit routes to minimise contact with other people.

Cleaning the workplace

If facilities have been closed and are to re-open, ventilation, air conditioning and positive pressure systems need to be checked as well as any specialist equipment.

Once open, workplaces need to be kept clean. This will involve the frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment and the frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles and keyboards. In addition, workspaces should be cleared, and waste and belongings removed at the end of each shift.

Steps should be taken to encourage a good level of hygiene, with signs and posters as to hand washing, frequency, technique and standards, providing hand sanitiser, setting guidance for use of toilets and enhanced cleaning for busy areas.

Measures to reduce transmission through contact with objects in the store will include cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering the site, cleaning procedures for vehicles, introducing more handwashing facilities for workers handling goods and restricting non-business deliveries.

Managing the workforce

Work should be organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each worker has, so that where contact is unavoidable it happens between the same people. In addition, direct contact can be reduced through the use of drop-off points or transfer zones where previously workers would have had to pass things directly to one another.

Non-essential travel should be minimised as should the numbers travelling in any one vehicle. Any shared vehicles should be cleaned between shifts or on handover. In addition, procedures should be put in place to minimise person-to-person contact during deliveries to other sites.

Communications must be clear, consistent and regular so workers understand coronavirus (COVID-19)-related safety procedures. On-going engagement with the workforce must be maintained through trade unions and other employee representative groups.

You can read the guidance in full here.

Articles shared by Thompsons relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) are correct at the time of publication. You should check the government's guidelines for the latest information and advice at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.