Employees not comfortable returning to work until social distancing implemented

Just under three-quarters of employees are not comfortable returning to work unless social distancing measures have been put in place.

This is according to a poll conducted by GHD, a professional services company, which found that 70 per cent of workers are not happy returning to the office until social distancing measures have been fully implemented. The poll also found that 60 per cent of staff would like to see more permanent social distancing measures in their workplace following the COVID-19 crisis.

One of the issues social distancing raises according to GHD is that it goes against the idea of maximising productivity at work and asks businesses to be more inefficient at a time when they need to be efficient as possible following the lockdown.

The company believes that the guidance the Government released to provide workplaces advice on how to return to work following the pandemic is positive but warns that it is not specific enough. As GHD explains: “they do not tell owners/operators how to determine the capacity, or how to ensure social distancing by reconfiguring spaces and designing new procedures that, importantly, account for the way people behave. More details on design and operations principles and standards are urgently needed nationally.”

GHD subsidiary, Movement Strategies, offers technology in order to combat the situation which “applies people movement principles and simulations to provide organisations with the practical design and operations advice they need to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace while also maximising capacity, complying with government guidance and demonstrating their commitment to health and safety to staff and stakeholders.”

The company feels this technology helps to balance the need for social distancing and optimising productivity.

Simon Ancliffe, executive director at Movement Strategies, said:

The wellbeing of people is critical to economic recovery. There is a real need to build confidence in the creation of safe working environments, while simultaneously optimising the productivity of space. As people are encouraged to get back to work, businesses will need to move quickly to develop detailed plans that will deliver optimal efficiency and safety, while responding to the way people behave and use space.

We have been working with a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, retail, construction and manufacturing, and are seeing the same challenges arise across the board. We strongly advise organisations to remember that 2 metres is not as straightforward as it seems and social distancing should be considered dynamically not statically. In addition, human behaviours must be considered when implementing solutions. It is extremely important that social distancing procedures are monitored and measured as they are adopted into daily operations, as this will be vital in helping to create better and safer ways of working in the future.

The poll was promoted by GHD on its social media channels and received 304 responses.