Adapting safely to the new working landscape

Following the lifting of many Covid-19-related restrictions for England announced on 19 July, businesses are being asked to plan "a safe return to...

Adapting safely to the new working landscape

Following the lifting of many Covid-19-related restrictions for England announced on 19 July, businesses are being asked to plan "a safe return to the workplace". This includes allowing people who've been furloughed or working from home to gradually return to their offices and work locations.

Restrictions on meeting others and social distancing are now being relaxed, although face coverings on public transport and in crowded places will still be recommended. However, with Covid-19 cases rising, the Prime Minister acknowledges that the pandemic "is far from over". And many businesses are expressing concerns about the growing potential for worker shortages as the risk of contracting the virus increases, including among those who've been vaccinated.

The 'test, trace and isolate' policy will continue. Although some workers in critical sectors – such as hospitals, care homes and those involved in the provision of energy, travel, food, water and medicines – will be exempt from isolating.

But from 16 August, fully-vaccinated adults will no longer be required to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive Covid-19 case.

Concerns over workplace safety

The reaction to a return to the workplace among staff who've been working from home has been mixed. According to a survey this month by OnePoll, just over half (52%) of 5,000 employees questioned say they feel ready to return to the office, albeit only for two to three days a week. But more than a third (35%) are concerned that their offices aren't Covid-19 secure. And 60% think that the company they work for needs to improve the office environment to prevent staff becoming ill in the future. However, there are technological solutions that can help to minimise the risk of infection in the workplace and therefore help to increase worker confidence.

Focussing on air quality

A key area of focus is now on optimising indoor air quality (IAQ), as this can actively reduce the transmission of viruses as well as other bio contaminants. This involves monitoring, filtering and controlling the air a building's occupants breathe. The good news is that the technology to do this already exists within the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls of many building energy management systems (BEMS).

You can read more about the technical detail – and the latest Healthy building guidelines published in a blog post last week by one of our experts.

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