The Fitzrovia Partnership is a Business Improvement District representing businesses in the heart of London’s Fitzrovia.

Telephone: 020 3146 4260

info@fitzroviapartnership.com

11 -13 Bayley Street, London, WC1B 3HD

Workplace

Workplace Readiness

Recovery Phase

Workplace Readiness

The workplace readiness process is extensive – no detail is too small to consider. It entails conducting a comprehensive risk assessment of the physical space and taking steps to prepare for reactivation. Business should openly communicate a plan that will support the back-to-work process.

UK Government guidance on Managing Risk is as follows:

  • Ensuring both workers and visitors who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the premises.
  • In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
  • Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable – you should consider and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessments).
  • Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.
  • You should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission, particularly from aerosol transmission. We will develop further guidance, based on scientific evidence, to enable these activities as soon as possible

Further mitigating actions include:

  • increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.

In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Formulation of a Building Reoccupation Strategy will be key to the reactivation of buildings that may have been unoccupied or operating with skeleton staff during the Crisis and Pre-Recovery stages of the covid-19 pandemic lockdown phase.

We have put together a checklist of considerations that may require maintenance and testing before reoccupying a building.

Indoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to 2 households (including support bubbles) while outdoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most 6 people from any number of households.

Businesses following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host larger groups. This is also the case for events in public outdoor spaces that are organised by businesses, charitable or political organisations, and public bodies, provided they take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of transmission, in line with COVID19 secure guidance and including completion of a risk assessment. Any other gathering in an outdoor space must not be any larger than 30 people.

Those running events following COVID-19 secure guidelines should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public and prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place.

Individual businesses should consider the cumulative impact of many businesses reopening in a small area. This means working with local authorities, The Fitzrovia Partnership, neighbouring businesses and travel operators to assess this risk and applying additional mitigations. 

These could include:
  • further lowering capacity even if it is possible to safely seat a number of people inside a venue, it may not be safe for them all to travel or enter that venue
  • staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas
  • arranging one way travel routes between transport hubs and venues
  • advising patrons to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue

If appropriate, the government has powers under schedule 22 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to close venues hosting large gatherings or prohibit certain events (or types of event) from taking place.

Ventilation

Objective: To use ventilation to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19. Ventilation can be used as a control measure to reduce the risk of transmission of COVD-19.

Tiny airborne particles can travel further than droplets and in poorly ventilated spaces this can lead to viral particles spreading between people. Good ventilation can reduce this risk.

Good ventilation can be different for areas depending on how many people are in there, how the space is being used, and the particular layout of the area. Therefore you will need to consider the particular ventilation requirements in the area you are considering.Read advice on air conditioning and ventilation from HSE

Management of Reactivation – General Checklist

We have put together a checklist of considerations that may require maintenance and testing before reoccupying a building.

  • Building Fabric Elements
  • Building Management System (BMS)/Controls
  • Catering Services
  • Chilled Water Systems
  • Compressed Air Systems
  • DX Cooling Plant
  • Electrical Systems
  • Emergency Lighting
  • Fire Alarm Systems
  • Gas Supply
  • Heating Systems
  • Lighting and Lighting Systems
  • Motors, Generators, UPS’s and Battery Systems
  • Oil Supply
  • Pipework (All Systems)
  • Refrigerant
  • Gases
  • Security Monitoring and Access Systems
  • Transformers and Substations
  • Ventilation Plant
  • Water Hygiene Services
  • Water Services – Fire Protection and Environmental Supply System

Key Considerations

Water Systems

Have your building systems been regularly flushed during the lockdown period? Systems that have not been operating may have unknown and potentially dangerous conditions. Ensure you have the supply tested (noting that all experts/sample labs are possibly going to have an alternate focus and high workloads).

Fire, Security and Emergency Systems

Emergency generators will need to be tested to provide power in an emergency. Fire systems need to be checked and tested even if they were left active whilst the building is shut down.

Statutory and Legal Requirements

There are statutory and legal requirements for the entire general checklist above. It is important that your business has taken steps to meet these requirements before reactivating your building.

In most cases, there will be local processes in place within your organisation to ensure compliance in the above areas. If you have any questions or concerns or require expert advice on any of the considerations above, get in touch with the team at The Fitzrovia Partnership who will be able to direct you to the right expert advice or supply chain partner.

Re-Modelling Workplaces

Preparation to reactivate workplaces will require the development of detailed plans for each space, re-modelling of the physical environment to support social/physical distancing practices, with continuous, relevant and timely communications.

The government has confirmed that social distancing measures will be a mainstay for some time to come and, guided by the science, will be stepped down very gradually. Businesses should take steps to change the physical environment that support physical distancing for all workplace occupants and other safety considerations.

Outbreaks in the workplace

Objective: To provide guidance in an event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As part of your risk assessment, you should ensure you have an up to date plan in case there is a COVID-19 outbreak. This plan should nominate a single point of contact (SPOC) where possible who should lead on contacting local Public Health teams.
  2. If there are more than 5 cases of COVID-19 associated with your workplace in 14 days, you should contact your local PHE health protection team to report the suspected outbreak. Find your local PHE health protection team.
  3. If the local PHE health protection team declares an outbreak, you will be asked to record details of symptomatic staff and assist with identifying contacts. You should therefore ensure all employment records are up to date. You will be provided with information about the outbreak management process, which will help you to implement control measures, assist with communications to staff, and reinforce prevention messages.

Phased Return – General Operational Considerations

  • Workstation/Desk distancing – 2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable
  • One way systems
  • Avoid persons sitting near high traffic office walkways
  • Staggered arrival and departure times for staff – avoiding peak travel times
  • Provision of additional parking or facilities to encourage active travel (bicycle storage etc)
  • Staggered staff breaks, sitting 2 metres apart or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, one way system entry/exit for break out facilities
  • Working From Home – splitting teams where possible to allow distancing at the office
  • Flexibility those who use public transport to commute to allow work from home and minimise need to travel to/from work (essential workplace presence only)
  • Minimise sit down meetings – essential meetings only – limited attendees
  • Essential meetings implement distancing measures – 2 metres between or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable
  • Meeting space cleansing after each use
  • Push/Pull with foot door entry systems
  • Social distancing indicators for the floor spaces especially at reception / walkways / corridors
  • Sanitisation and cleaning kits for each office to regularly cleanse high contact areas, workstations, phones and computers

Shift patterns and working groups

Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each employee has.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As far as possible, where staff are split into teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.
  2. Identifying areas where people directly pass things to each other, for example office supplies, and finding ways to remove direct contact, such as using drop-off points or transfer zones.
  3. You should assist the Test and Trace service by keeping a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.

Outside of the workplace

  • Control the number of entry and exit points into and out of the workplace. Consider having separate entrance and exit points if possible
  • Managing outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals or other businesses, for example by introducing queuing systems, using barriers and having staff direct customers.
  • Limit the number of customers, visitors and staff accessing the workplace at any time. Assess the size of he workplace and its layout, this will enable you to calculate the number of occupants who can reasonably follow 2 metre social distancing or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable.
  • Use a colleague to meet visitors, explain the social distancing requirements and control the number of visitors entering workplace at any one time. In some circumstances, that colleague may need to be Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensed.
  • Consider whether temporary barriers should be available in case it is necessary to stop people joining a queue.
  • Place clear signage outside of the workplace explaining the social distancing measures in place that visitors and occupants should follow.
  • Place markings outside the workplace to assist correct queue spacings.
  • Speak to nearby premises to work together to manage possible shared
  • Encourage visitors and occupants to enter the workplace alone wherever possible. Please bear in mind that this is not always possible
  • Schedule deliveries to avoid crowding in delivery areas
  • Consider non-contact deliveries
  • Use of safe outside areas for staff breaks
  • Businesses in high footfall areas should discuss queue management with the local authority or The Fitzrovia Partnership to determine the best way to avoid congestion
  • Consider whether additional security staff may be required to support colleagues.

Inside workplace hygiene and cleaning

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.
  2. Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings, or you are unsure, advice should be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.

Keeping the workplace clean and hygienic

  • Place clear signage throughout the workplace reminding visitors/customers/occupants of the sanitisation measures and asking them to follow these rules.
  • Provision of cleaning stations at workplace reception, or front of store and all common areas in the building
  • Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment
  • Hand sanitiser, if available and disinfectant wipes or spray and tissue for trolley, basket handles, lifts, reception and all common areas
  • Identify and regularly clean key touch points eg. door handles, lift buttons, keypads, stair/escalator handrails.
  • Enhancing cleaning for busy areas
  • Providing more waste facilities and increased waste collection
  • Provision of paper towels for hand drying as an alternative to hand dryers
  • Limit or restrict use of high touch items or equipment, e.g. printers/whiteboards
  • If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19, you should refer to the official government guidance “COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings

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