UK government wants remote working to continue after lockdown

Businesses will be required to cut hot-desking and keep canteens closed when staff return…

Office workers will be urged to continue working from home as part of the UK government’s roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions, according to reports.

The proposal is among a list of guidelines drawn up by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) following consultations with bosses, unions and trade bodies.

The documents are thought to be a crucial element of an announcement from Boris Johnson on how the government plans to ease the lockdown in order to get the UK’s economy moving, which he is expected to make on Thursday, according to The Financial Times.

UK deaths due to the coronavirus increased by 315 over the weekend to 28,446, but the government said last week that the country had “passed the peak”.

With the public and businesses now asking when they can return to work, the government is concerned about transport systems being overwhelmed, so those that can work from home will be encouraged to continue to do so after the lockdown is lifted. Businesses will also be asked to monitor the mental and physical health of these employees.

The daily routines of those that return to the office will change significantly, according to the guidelines. Businesses with five or more employees must undertake “risk assessments” before allowing anyone to return and will be asked to submit a document explaining how they’ll maintain safe working conditions. Businesses will be asked to reduce hot-desking and use “staggered” shift times to minimise the likelihood of infection spreading, while employees will be told to avoid sharing stationary and to steer clear of face-to-face meetings.

The two-metre distancing protocol will be enforced by floor tape, according to the guidelines, and staff canteens will remain closed.

There was very little in the documents about the use of PPE, but the guidelines insist on high levels of deep cleaning and sanitary practices within all work environments.

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