Will implementing social distancing mean you need to buy more office space?

As employees return to work following the COVID-19 lockdown, certain offices may find it hard to implement social distancing possibly resulting in businesses having to buy extra office space to keep workers two metres apart.

This is the opinion of Protecting.co.uk, a health and safety software company that predicts a rise in business owners looking to open additional offices to allow all staff to return to work. Research has found that 60 per cent of employees are unable to return to work due to social distancing requirements. Resulting in only 40 per cent of the workforce being able to return to the office at any one time.

Mark Hall, company spokesman for Protecting.co.uk said:

Many staff members have been working from home for the last couple of months, but many bosses are keen to get everybody back to their desks. But with the need to spread everyone out, larger workspaces are needed to keep them all safe.

An IT company boss in the Midlands said:

I’m hoping the Government will support us, and won’t charge us business rates on these essential second offices. Otherwise, I’ll have to keep my staff on furlough, which is costly for the taxpayer.

Protecting.co.uk believes that this leaves business owners in a dangerous position as landlords may decide to increase prices to take advantage of the situation. As Mr Hall said:

A lot of businesses are wanting to get their staff back, but don’t want to be stung with hiked-up rents in order to get their businesses back up and running.

It is believed that the second premise, employers may be forced to buy will only be temporary and not long-term as businesses are looking for a way to get their teams fully up and running again.  If a vaccine is created, this could end the need for additional work spaces.

Protecting.co.uk say that measures staff can expect to see include:

  • One-way systems around the workplace
  • Markings on the floor to indicate spacings
  • Cubicles and partitions to allow for barriers between workers
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use such as masks and gloves if necessary
  • More handwashing stations available
  • More cleaning of equipment