What will Britain’s post-lockdown workplaces look like?

Landline Phone stock
Landline Phone stock - (Copyright PA Archive)
15:43pm, Mon 04 May 2020
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

As the UK’s coronavirus cases begin to stabilise, calls for an end to the nation’s strict lockdown rules continue to grow.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to reveal a road map next Sunday, detailing exactly how restrictions will be eased in order for Britons to safely return to work.

But the Government has also stressed that the nation’s battle with coronavirus will continue after lockdown measures are eased.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove has said Britons will need to live with “some degree of constraint” until a vaccination becomes available.

“Ultimately, unless and until we have a vaccine then I suspect that we are going to have to live with some degree of constraint because of the nature of the virus,” he said.

“But we obviously want to, wherever possible, and consistent with the measures on public health, restore people’s lives to as close to normal as possible.”

Here, the PA news agency looks at what the nation’s workplaces might look like once restrictions are lifted.

– Offices

Since the lockdown conditions were first imposed on March 23, most of the nation’s office workers have become accustomed to working from home.

However, companies that are eager for workers to return to the office will need to make a number of changes in order to ensure the health and safety of staff is not compromised.

HEALTH Coronavirus - (Copyright PA Graphics)

According to the BBC, staggered shift times, less sharing of equipment and continued maximisation of home working are among a number of ideas listed as part of a draft government strategy to help businesses prepare for a return to work.

Increased hygiene procedures and the installation of protective screens are also included in the plan.

Meanwhile, the Guardian says ministers are holding talks with technology firms over the creation of “health passports” which use “coronavirus testing and facial recognition” to prove which workers have had Covid-19.

– Retail

Last month, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) published guidance for measures that retail stores could introduce to help with the transition once restrictions are lifted.

The recommended measures include limiting entry and exit points, using floor markings to outline social distancing and keeping changing rooms closed.

The guidance also suggests installing cleaning stations with hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes at the front of stores.

Boxing Day sales - (Copyright PA Archive)

BRC chief Helen Dickinson said the guidance measures would serve to ensure the safety and well-being of both customers and staff.

“Since the lockdown, many retailers have proved how shops can be run safely and effectively in line with the Government’s social distancing advice,” she said.

“Continued close collaboration with Government, including public support for the steps retailers are taking and adequate notice to get supply chains up and running, will mean that retail businesses can start trading again slowly and safely, and customers can feel confident that they are safe to return to shops.”

– Public transport

Public transport is one of the biggest issues for many people as they prepare to return to the office.

Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said increased bus and train timetables will be implemented to help the public transport system cope with an influx in passengers while still adhering to social distancing recommendations.

“The first thing is, obviously, we’ll expand the number of trains and buses running,” Mr Shapps said.

Cycle lane stock - (Copyright PA Archive)

He also pointed to active transport methods such as cycling as a way for people to take more personal responsibility over their welfare.

“The second thing to say is active travel, I think, is a very important part of this, by which I mean cycling, walking and so on,” he said.

“There’s been a massive increase … hundreds of percent more people using the existing scheme where you can go to your employer and ask for a bike which you pay back through the loan and effectively before you pay tax, and that’s a very popular scheme and I think active transport, active mobility is something we’ve been doing a lot more of.”

– Airports

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has warned that the nation’s major international airports do not have enough space for social distancing to be a solution for safe travel post-lockdown.

“Forget social distancing – it won’t work in aviation or any other form of public transport, and the problem is not the plane, it is the lack of space in the airport,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

“Just one jumbo jet would require a queue a kilometre long.”

Instead, Mr Holland-Kaye believes mandatory health checks for passengers, increased levels of hygiene and compulsory face masks would be more realistic options to enable airports to reopen and air travel to resume.

Sign up to our newsletter