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Five things set to transform the office after lockdown

Bosses of major employers (left, Mark Proctor of Lovewell Blake, right, Simon Gray of EEEGR)  in the region have spoken about their preparations for reopening. Picture: Getty/Lovewell Blake/Archant

Bosses of major employers (left, Mark Proctor of Lovewell Blake, right, Simon Gray of EEEGR) in the region have spoken about their preparations for reopening. Picture: Getty/Lovewell Blake/Archant

Getty/Lovewell Blake/Archant

Working in an office might seem like a distant memory to many – but bosses across the county are beginning to plan for what a return to work will look like. 
Here are some of the things companies across Norfolk may be looking to introduce come the end of lockdown.

Lovewell Blake is being proactive in its approach to reopening.; Photo: Bill SmithLovewell Blake is being proactive in its approach to reopening.; Photo: Bill Smith

• Split shifts

Bosses across Norfolk have already confirmed that they will ask staff to work split shifts or flexible hours to ensure reduced footfall through buildings.

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The East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) is already looking at these measures, with chief executive Simon Gray saying: “We are looking at potentially splitting shifts. This may be, for example, people work two days at home and three days in the office and it rotates between groups.”

The company’s Great Yarmouth-based site has already been deep cleaned ahead of staff returning.

Accountancy firm Lovewell Blake is also looking at these measures. 
HR partner Mark Proctor said: “We are aware of issues such as childcare and avoiding rush hour crowding, so we will be offering flexible working arrangements – in fact, this was something we did before the pandemic.”

• Virtual teams

Many of us have got used to working with colleagues through Zoom or Teams - and a lot of businesses won’t be rushing back to the office until they can be assured their staff are safe.

Mr Gray said: “We’ll continue to rely on tools like Zoom and Teams instead of other methods,” said Mr Gray. “But I’m sure there will be people working on integrating those platforms so they can talk to each other if you’re using different ones.” 
He added: “We’ll be looking at events and training as well. We’ve already done a couple of webinars that went well. At first you have to get your head around the etiquette of it – switching your microphone off when the speaker is talking for example – but everyone knows what to do now.”

• Face masks at work

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Official advice on wearing face masks when returning to the office has not yet been issued by Westminster.

Boris Johnson has said that facemasks could prove ‘useful’ when out shopping - so the same mentality may be applied to the office.

• Closed canteens

Given the fact social distancing guidance is here to stay it’s likely communal areas such as canteens and tea rooms will be closed for a while yet.

This would partly be down to keeping people physically apart, but also to reduce the likelihood of them touching the same equipment such as handles.

Lovewell Blake has said it will only use communal areas where necessary.

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Mr Proctor said: “We will continue to use communal areas and meeting rooms, but only where social distancing can be maintained – this will mean that we won’t use smaller meeting rooms.

“We will encourage clients to meet with us virtually where possible, but where face-to-face meetings are necessary, we will ensure that social distancing guidelines are followed.”

• Floor markings

Many shops and sites have already put floor markings down to illustrate how far away from others you should be. This is a technique that’s likely to make it into offices too,

“We will be looking at measures such as floor markings and screens for our reception desks,” said Mr Proctor. “As well as providing hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes. We are planning enhanced deep cleaning of our offices on a frequent basis to keep staff safe.”


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