The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

What Will Freedom Day Look Like For Facilities Managers?

What Will Freedom Day Look Like For Facilities Managers?
06 July 2021 | Updated 22 July 2021
 

As England moves to Step Four on 19 July, what does this mean for those managing our workplaces and facilities?

In a public address on 5 July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that "this pandemic is far from over and it will certainly not be over by 19th.”

However, there are several changes to legal restrictions occuring today, including the removal of legal limits on private gatherings, an end to the call to work from home and an end to social distancing.

Given the huge changes made to our workplaces to reassemble the workforce over the past six months, facilities managers may find themselves making some challenging decisions regarding post-COVID restriction rules at work.

 

"Regardless of any changes to official guidance from 19 July, employers should continue to ensure that they have the necessary measures in place to give confidence to workers that their workplace is safe. This can include changes to desk spaces, shift patterns to help workers avoid busy times on public transport and use of one-way systems to reduce staff contact while the risk of infection remains. This will be particularly important in these early weeks while the vaccination programme is still ongoing."

–Peter Cheese

Chief Executive, CIPD

 

What is Changing at Work?

 

  • All legal limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors removed
  • All businesses to re-open, including nightclubs
  • No limits on the number of people attending events
  • End of the one metre plus rule on social distancing
  • End of the legal obligation to wear a face covering
  • Work from home instructions to end 
  • Removal of bubbles and contact isolation for pupils in schools and colleges

 

What do FMs Need to Consider?

 

Workplace sights that have now become commonplace, and expected, will soon no longer be mandatory. This includes things like the provision of hand sanitiser, one-way system floorplans, restrictions on numbers in lifts and workplace bubbles.

However, with up to 50,000 daily cases predicted towards the end of the month, and rising hospital admissions, workplace managers will need to carefully consider which safety and hygiene measures are kept.

 

Protecting Key Workers – Face Masks

 

The commute will also start to look different from 19 July – with face masks no longer a legal requirement.

A spokesperson from Unite told the BBC that face mask usage should still be encouraged on public transport, to protect the public and those working in the transport industry.

They said: 

"To end the requirement to wear masks on public transport would be an act of gross negligence by the government. Rates of infection are continuing to increase and not only does mask-wearing reduce transmissions, it helps provide reassurance to drivers and to passengers who are nervous about using public transport.

"The idea of personal responsibility and hoping that people will wear masks is absolutely ridiculous, members are already reporting there is an increase in passengers ignoring the rules on mask-wearing."

Those working in retail spaces, including cleaners and security guards might also find themselves at greater risk.

 

"If necessary, we will consider options such as removal or updates of signage and a review on how we approach reception areas. Crucially, we will ensure cleaners are briefed and ready to continue with our ‘high touch’ cleaning changes. We will keep all sanitiser stations certainly for the immediate term regardless of government advice."

Peter Carr

Head of FM at Commercial Estates Group and ThisWeekinFM Editorial Advisory Board Member

 

Should Freedom Day Mean a Mass Return to The Office?

 

Ahead of the lifting of the restrictions, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:

“Freedom Day shouldn’t signal a mass return to workplaces, but it could signal the start of greater freedom and flexibility in how, when and where people work.

“It should be down to individual organisations, consulting with their people, to agree working arrangements after the end of restrictions.

“Regardless of any changes to official guidance from 19 July, employers should continue to ensure that they have the necessary measures in place to give confidence to workers that their workplace is safe. This can include changes to desk spaces, shift patterns to help workers avoid busy times on public transport and use of one-way systems to reduce staff contact while the risk of infection remains. This will be particularly important in these early weeks while the vaccination programme is still ongoing.

“Businesses shouldn't rush to simply revert to how they used to work now we have experience and evidence that it can be done differently, and with positive impacts on employee health and wellbeing, inclusion and productivity.

“People generally want a mix of workplace and home working, and the possibility of more choice in their working routines, meaning hybrid working can provide an effective balance for many workers. Employers should be trying to understand and support individuals’ preferences over more flexible working arrangements where possible, balanced with meeting the needs of the business.

“However, not everyone can work from home. Organisations should also look at increasing flexible options working for those who can’t work from home using different types of flexible hours arrangements. This will help avoid the creation of a two-tier workforce where home and hybrid workers have considerable flexibility while many other employees have very little.”

 

Changes for Commercial Real Estate Clients

 

Peter Carr, Head of FM at Commercial Estates Group and ThisWeekinFM Editorial Advisory Board Member, took us through some of the changes he will be implementing for his tenants:

"We will be reviewing restart risk assessments for each property and schedule meetings with every tenant to discuss these and their ‘appetite for return’ (we currently sit at 21 per cent occupancy).

"If necessary, we will consider options such as removal or updates of signage and a review on how we approach reception areas. Crucially, we will ensure cleaners are briefed and ready to continue with our ‘high touch’ cleaning changes. We will keep all sanitiser stations certainly for the immediate term regardless of government advice.

We think it will still not be a ‘rush’ back to the office but a planned uptick – but many companies will remain on hybrid for many months or permanently. 

"Generally we think offices will return to being main work hubs primarily, for social interaction and knowledge sharing”

Picture: a photograph of a social distancing floor sticker

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 06 July 2021

Share



Related Articles

Freedom Day – How Do You Feel About Returning to The Office?

For some, Freedom Day marks a much-awaited return to some of our pre-pandemic habits, including working at the office instead of at home. But is everyone keen to come...

 Read Full Article
Research Shows UK Workers Under Pressure to Return to Unfit Workplaces

Data from the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management warns that half of UK workers are being pressured to return to unfit office spaces by their...

 Read Full Article
Leaked Report Suggests Perspex Screens in Offices Should be Scrapped

According to a draft cabinet report seen by POLITICO, ministers are being advised perspex screens do little to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The report...

 Read Full Article
The Office of the Future – 10 Steps to a Pandemic-Proof Workplace

What do the experts say about the physical and cultural trends predicted within businesses when offices begin to open up? It’s...

 Read Full Article
Casella Launches Social Distancing Smart Tags for Workers

A smart-monitoring technology company has launched a wearable smart tag designed to make social distancing easier. The body-worn Orbi-Trace smart tag gives the...

 Read Full Article
Indoor Air Quality Surveys Needed Before Reopening Buildings

Bureau Veritas is stressing the need to carry out indoor air quality surveys, swab-sampling programs and quantification of fresh air assessments, to ensure premises...

 Read Full Article
The 2021 Roadmap to Returning to the Office 

Giles Fuchs, CEO at Office Space in Town, reacts to Boris Johnson’s latest roadmap out of lockdown in England, and predicts what this will mean for the return to...

 Read Full Article
Washroom Waste in UK Businesses Drops by 49 Per Cent

The amount of washroom waste generated by UK organisations has dropped by almost half year-on-year, which is a good indicator of reduced building occupancy, says...

 Read Full Article
Three-Quarters of Businesses’ Operating Costs Have Risen to Maintain COVID-Secure Measures  

Over 76 per cent of businesses in the UK have seen a substantial increase in operating costs, as a result of implementing COVID-secure measures. The latest figures...

 Read Full Article
#KeepBrumSafe – What Does it Mean for Birmingham Residents?

The #BirminghamLockdown comes into force today. But how is it affecting the local community? We turn to Twitter for the lowdown.    Earlier this month,...

 Read Full Article