Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that changes to workplace practices in the office may offer an effective exit from the current lockdown measures.
The UK went into lockdown on the 24th March, the government urging all Brits to stay at home and only go outside for medical reasons, exercise, essential food shops and work (if necessary/a key worker).
The lockdown has also meant the closing of schools, restaurants, pubs, cafes and other non-essential businesses, which has caused many to close the office and work remotely where possible. It has also meant the loss of millions of jobs, many UK businesses having to make cuts to try and survive the current lockdown measures.
All of these measures are helping to UK to maintain social distancing, slowing the spread of the virus and subsequently saving lives. However, whilst we surpass a month in lockdown, businesses and employees wonder when they’ll be getting back to the office, and what measures will have to be taken to keep the virus from spreading.
The Scottish government published their Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making document on the 23rd April, which “Sets out challenges Scotland faces and outlines the approach and principles that will guide us as we make decisions about transitioning out of the current lockdown arrangements.”
Sturgeon warns that social distancing practices could be necessary for beyond the end of 2020. However, whilst it looks like social distancing is with us for some time, the Scottish First Minister has outlined plans for how businesses might begin to reopen, stating:
“It may be that some businesses in some sectors can reopen, but only if they can change how they work to keep employees and customers two metres distant from each other”
Within the Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making document, it states that “Easing restrictions in particular settings is likely to see the continuation of physical distancing and other hygiene measures (such as maintaining 2 metre distancing when premises re-open and/or limiting the number of people that can be in confined spaces at the same time).”
These plans have been described by Sturgeon as a “first cut”, that has been created to start a conversation in restoring pieces of normality into our lives.
Whilst precise details are for now unknown, offices could see some significant redesigns to accommodate for social distancing and the other types of hygiene measures that are currently helping to stop the spread of the virus.