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The roadmap out of lockdown was revealed just a couple of weeks ago, and with it comes new hope that life will return to as close to normal as it’s been for a long time.

Lockdown has no doubt taken its toll on individuals and businesses. The period of isolation has affected people physically, mentally, and financially, and as a result, most are more than excited to return to work.

The workplace that your employees will return to however won’t be the same as it was due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As the nation and wider world are by no means ‘out of the woods’ yet, the government has set out stringent guidelines about how a company should adapt to ensure it can get back to business safely during coronavirus.

Here we set out the key points that will shape what your new, socially distanced workplace will look like.

A completely risk-assessed environment

As we still remain in the middle of our fight against Covid-19, reopening your business’ doors and getting employees back to work doesn’t come without its risks.

Before they can reopen, all businesses with 50 employees or more must undergo a Covid-19 risk assessment. This risk assessment is completed in conjunction with workers and trade unions to ensure risks can be identified and, where possible, minimised throughout the work environment.

A reduced workforce

Whilst healthy and willing individuals who are unable to work from home will be encouraged to get back to work, workers up and down the country are likely to return to a reduced workforce.

Those deemed at high risk of developing coronavirus will still be unable to return until it is safe to do so. So, who is at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 and therefore unlikely to return to work during the early stages of businesses reopening? BBC News answers this all-important question:

“Having a health condition does not make you more likely than anyone else to come into contact with coronavirus. But it appears people who are older, those with weakened immune systems and people who have underlying chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, are more at risk of severe effects if they do catch it.”

A redesigned workspace

Maintaining two metres social distancing at all stages during the working day is integral to being able to work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Employers will therefore need to rethink the design of the workplace to ensure this can be facilitated.

Your new, socially distanced workplace could include staggered start and end times, one-way walking systems, more entrances and exits, and altered seating and desk layouts.

Barriers may also feature in the Covid friendly workspace design, particularly if workers cannot be separated by two metres and transmission risk has to be managed.

A pristine business premises

Sanitisation and disinfection will take precedence in workplaces large and small once employees are permitted to return to work.

High contact areas such as door handles, payment keypads, keyboards and toilets will be cleaned more regularly and thoroughly, whilst handwashing will be practised throughout the day as well as upon entry and exit.

As we face months of change, only time will tell whether this initial guidance will be enough to curb the spread, kick-start the economy and, most importantly, guarantee workers’ safety. Adapting to a new, socially distanced way of working however is a very important, first step.