How do return to work policies differ in key global cities?
As many countries around the world are now back at work and others are starting to loosen their Covid-19 lockdown policies, some trends are developing that indicate what might be ahead for those who are yet to return to their normal place of work.
In New York City we are seeing a phased approach; construction and manufacturing sectors are returning to work in the first phase, real estate/professional services in the second, retail in the third and arts and culture in the fourth phase.
Similarly, in the UK, construction workers were some of the first to be allowed back to their workplace and the Government has provided initial guidelines of when other sectors are expected to open again.
EMPLOYEE PROTECTION PLANS
From New York to Dubai, in order to reopen, each business and industry must have a plan in place to protect employees and clients, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower the risk of infection in the workplace.
This can include PPE equipment for employees and customers and companies must follow public health advice. Almost across the board there are guidelines for having fewer employees in the office at any one time and those that are back at their desk need to follow certain routes around the office, maintain social distance and wash their hands regularly.
Offices in Dubai were allowed to operate at full capacity again from 3 June, having previously been limited to 50 per cent of employees. Shopping malls and all other private sector businesses are also now allowed to operate with 100 per cent capacity.
Some countries and cities, particularly those in Asia, have temperature checks in place for all employees before they can enter the office. In Hong Kong, it is then the responsibility of the facilities management team to refuse entry to those who have a high temperature. On the other hand, in Paris, temperature checks are not obligatory but employees are expected to check their temperature themselves.
Deep cleaning after employees have left the office, or between different teams if there is a rotation system in place, is another theme that is common in most major global cities. Lift buttons, toilets and other areas frequently accessed or touched need to be regularly cleaned and offices need to have good ventilation systems in place to reduce the spread of the virus.
LEARNING AND ADAPTING
A key point mentioned in almost all the legislation and guidelines across the world is learning and adapting. As health guidance changes quickly, government and companies need to be able to adapt quickly too.
Those that are slightly behind the curve when it comes to going back to the office are in the privileged position to be able to learn from those further ahead when it comes to putting in place physical alternatives to the office and keeping staff safe as the world comes out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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