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COVID-19 Working From Home Guidance – What’s the Latest?

COVID-19 Working From Home Guidance – What’s the Latest?
24 January 2022 | Updated 27 January 2022
 

Employees in England are no longer being asked to work from home, as the government removes Plan B rules. But is this change as simple as encouraging a mass return to the office 9-5?

As part of Boris Johnson’s autumn and winter plan, workers in England were asked to once again work from home if they could, excluding those who absolutely needed to attend a workplace to perform their role.

As of 19 January 2022, the advice changed to the following: “you are no longer asked to work from home if you can. Talk to your employer to agree arrangements to return to your workplace.”

 

"Spaces for collaboration and socialisation, relaxation, as well as healthy food and outdoor spaces present the biggest opportunities for employers to support their workforce.”

–Mark Caskey

EMEA CEO of Work Dynamics, JLL

 

Do Workers Want to Come Back to the Office?

 

According to ONS figures, of working adults currently home working, 85 per cent wanted to use a "hybrid" approach of both home and office working in future. Therefore it seems that many workers will want to spend at least some time in their traditional workplace.

Whether offices are ready to offer a workplace that encourages a mass return is a separate issue. Research from real estate and investment management firm JLL suggests that companies are unprepared and must do more to create more enticing workplaces.

The research shows that 48 per cent of organisations in EMEA still have not developed a future of work programme to meet the rising demands and expectations of their staff for greater work flexibility, exceptional and sustainable workplaces and increased wellbeing.

Mark Caskey, EMEA CEO of Work Dynamics at JLL, predicts only those companies which succeed in achieving a truly exceptional workplace will ultimately survive:

“Organisations that create truly regenerative workplaces that make their people feel safe, energised and motivated will have an edge. Spaces for collaboration and socialisation, relaxation, as well as healthy food and outdoor spaces present the biggest opportunities for employers to support their workforce.”

 

What Do Employers Have to Do to Keep Staff Safe?

 

At the time of going to press, the official government guidance prioritises six main actions to protect their staff and visitors:

 

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment.
  2. Provide an adequate supply of fresh air to indoor spaces, either through natural ventilation or mechanical. Poorly ventilated spaces should also be identified.
  3. Increase surface cleaning and encourage hand washing.
  4. Ask workers with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate and get a PCR test.
  5. Encourage check-in via an NHS QR code poster (although employers are no longer legally required to collect customer/visitor contact details).
  6. Keep all employees, contractors and visitors up-to-date on safety measures.

 

What About Face Masks in the Workplace?

 

As of 27 January 2022, there will be no longer a legal requirement to wear a face-covering or a mask at work or in most indoor public places. However, people are still advised to wear one in crowded spaces indoors, or where they may come into contact with people outside of their usual social/work bubble

 

Do Large Workplaces Have to Ask for a COVID-Pass?

 

Although the current workplace guidance requests support for NHS QR code check-ins, when it comes to COVID passport schemes for large venues, this will no longer apply from 27 January 2022.

Venues can still choose to use the NHS COVID Pass on a voluntary basis.

For the latest official guidelines, see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-covid-19/offices-factories-and-labs

Picture: a photograph of a person working at a desk on a laptop, with some paperwork also seen The person is resting their head slightly on their hands. Image Credit: Pexels

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 24 January 2022

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