“Get social distancing done”: UK offices likely to remain closed

May 25, 2020

3 min read

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What's going on here?

Boris Johnson, in his latest address, announced that his government plans to ease restrictions of the lockdown as it gears up to face the mammoth task of rejuvenating the national economy. Offices, however, are expected to remain shut even as the lockdown is lifted partially.

What does this mean?

Even as the UK government intends to relax some measures, most offices workers across the country are likely to remain indoors. To prevent overcrowding of public transport and to ensure social distancing, working from home is still the norm expected to be maintained. The Prime Minister mentioned that his administration is currently in  the process of developing a “roadmap” for the UK to return to normality.

However, multiple questions remain unanswered as there remains a lack of clarity behind the message that the government is trying to convey. Will corporate offices be issued with guidelines on maintaining social distancing or not? Will  these guidelines be mandatory or only advisory? Whether public transport will function at full capacity or not? When will restaurants, shopping complexes, schools, etc. be reopened? These and many other queries are yet to be clarified by the government.

What's the big picture effect?

Innovation and creativity are the two tools that will go a long way in determining which businesses come out on top during this adversity. Despite the information coming in from senior public officials regarding the imminent easement, all variables are pointing towards a drastically renewed workplace. Enterprises across all sectors are facing hardships in acquiring new clients, renegotiating existing contracts, and dwindling revenues. This has put immense pressure on cash flow forcing enterprises to reinvent their business structures to reduce costs.

Working from home has actually gone a long way in blowing off some steam. The work from home model has actually proven to be beneficial to businesses in the long term as it reduces operational costs (office rent, transportation costs) and there are no geographical barriers that employers would face while hiring an individual situated elsewhere. On the face of it, it may seem a huge let down to all office goers who are eagerly anticipating the routine of their lifestyles pre-COVID-19 . In actuality, some fields like finance, product designing, content creation, have seen a surge in productivity levels as there is lesser absenteeism, more working hours and employees are forced to rely upon technology. Thus , efficiency is improved to a large extent. It has been estimated that roughly 60% of the workforce in the UK is working remotely due the pandemic. Interestingly, like their employers, employees also tend to save money from the current model. According to a recent survey, on average, workers are now saving £44 weekly due to the sharp decline in  transport  expenses , and other personal expenditures. 

Reports suggest that the workforce across offices will be split into two, working on an alternative basis to ensure that office spaces are not jam-packed at any point of time. Along with these adjustments,  mandatory sanitisation, regular temperature checks and use of protective equipment seems to be a part of the government’s reopening scheme. It may seem overwhelming to some, but we must realise that though the pandemic figures have seemingly slowed down, the war against the pandemic is far  from over. A complete overhaul in the workplace environment, management and business operations, is already underway and only the fittest firms shall survive in this post-pandemic jungle.

Report written by Pratyush Chaturvedi

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