Following the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s roadmap announcement, where he discussed the Government’s work to establish new guidelines for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure, our Workplace Advisory Services team has put together the following response:

“With regards to the Government’s upcoming guidelines to get people back to a COVID-secure workplace, we expect there will still need to be significant tailoring and adaptation of the plans in order to ensure a safe, practical and secure environment.  Returning to working in offices won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ solution,” said Jan Jaap Boogaard, head of Colliers’ Workplace Advisory Services in EMEA.

Colliers International has created an Office Social Distancing Calculator to indicate how many usable workstations will be available after introducing distancing protocols. It notes that almost eight million people will be unable to return to the office once the Government lifts its COVID-19 lockdown measures:

  • 60 per cent of  the country’s 11.8 million desks will be unusable when a six foot gap between staff is introduced meaning 7.8 million people will have to continue working from home daily.

  • Small meeting rooms are likely to be turned into temporary individual offices. Larger meeting room capacities will be slashed in order to enable employees to maintain a physical distance from each other.

  • Organisations will need to consider redesigning their office space with banks of four desks, as opposed to the normal six or eight desks

Results from Colliers International’s latest Working From Home Survey:

  • From over 4,000 people Colliers has found 81 per cent of respondents have indicated they’d like to continue working remotely at least one day a week in the future

  • Of those who had been working from home for more than four weeks, more than three quarters (76 per cent) said their work-life balance had improved – 62 per cent across all respondents.

  • 52 per cent of those surveyed believe their productivity has not changed as a result of working from home, and 21 per cent believe their productivity has increased.

  • 77 per cent of respondents still feel connected to their team while working remotely, despite the physical distance.

JanJaap Boogard added: “Office workers will continue to face personal challenges, as they juggle childcare commitments, underlying health conditions; those who have vulnerable people within their household may still need to maintain isolation measures; and many that live with frontline workers.

“Commuting throws up another massive issue for office workers especially in large cities  - London, Manchester, Birmingham - that rely on a high percentage of commuters. It’s going to be easier to navigate for employers and employees in smaller cities where you can walk, cycle or drive to your office more easily. That’s before we even look at workplace health, safety and wellbeing, which a is a primary priority for many businesses that occupy office space.

“The results from our survey indicate that the vast majority (81 per cent) of office workers would like to continue some remote working once the pandemic is over or has lessened.

“What most people miss is the sense of collaboration and human connection with their colleagues. Companies are telling us that as a duty of care for their employees they will incorporate social distancing which will be a phased approach to returning to the office. This will not only be a precautionary intermediate step, it needs to be insisted upon in the future guidelines.”