Why social distancing is the new normal for Wates FM | Wates




The UK watched with baited breath earlier this week as we heard for the first time in seven weeks how the government is planning to reduce lockdown restrictions and help the country slowly get back on its feet.

Rumours have been circling for weeks about what this could mean for the country’s business community, much of which has been forced to close or send all employees home to work from the safety of their back offices and bedrooms. And while the government is being extremely cautious and taking only tentative steps to begin with, it’s clear that whatever happens next, the concept of what is ‘normal’ is a moving feast.

To survive, businesses must simply find a new way of operating with the threat of covid-19 looming ever over.

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James Gregg - Managing Director of Wates Facilities Management
James Gregg is Managing Director of Wates Facilities Management

Managing workspace is our norm

For Wates FM, managing the workplace requirements emerging from the current coronavirus climate is the norm, albeit in a very different guise of course. Proactively reviewing estates and property portfolios in order to help our clients effectively operate their workspaces is our bread and butter. We’re highly adept at working closely with businesses to introduce new tools and techniques that improve efficiency and address barriers to productivity.

What we’re busy doing now, much as we have been for some weeks, is listening to our clients about how they are affected and developing tailored solutions that will help them to run their businesses in the most profitable way – same approach, different challenge. This could be sourcing new technology that can supplement existing systems to make the workspace safer or providing end-to-end solutions that lead to a gradual reoccupation of buildings.

For example, we’re very experienced in using SFG30, a piece of technology that manages the shutdown and subsequent reactivation of buildings. As a step-by-step guide to maintaining building services during closure, such as keeping ventilation systems clean and clear and fire safety systems in good working shape, it facilitates a very quick and effective process for reopening.

Social distancing solutions

We’re also skilled in helping clients affect change in staff behaviours through transition plans that seek to change habits. Making the physical space safe is clearly extremely important but countering ingrained human instincts to congregate and interact will play a huge part in implementing the government’s social distancing strategy.

Ensuring staff to continue to feel safe within their workplace is critical and changes may need to be made to the usual routines, protocols and layout of the buildings. Advising staff of alternative means of commuting other than public transport will be key, as will increased health and safety signage.

DLA Piper's offices need to be fully functional 24 hours a day, all year round, to ensure that it can respond to client needs around the world at any time.

Prioritising mental health

With so many changes afoot and the need for preserving physical health at the top of the nation’s agenda, it would be easy to forget that our mental health is taking a hit while we readjust during these uncertain times. Understandably, a lot of employees will feel anxious about returning to work and it is crucial that employers establish a constant and open dialogue with their staff. Outlining any new procedures and listening to all concerns will reassure the workforce that their mental wellbeing as much as their physical safety is being protected.

We can help clients with this and enable the management and maintenance of regimes that foster effective H&S control and facilitate continuous improvement.

Wates' Stay Safe Strategy

Like our peers in the FM world, we are poised and ready to help the UK’s businesses manage a safe return to work. We’ve created our own ‘Stay Safe Strategy’ by way of guidelines – not only for our own employees but our clients and their people to ensure that buildings are prepared to receive returning workforces within a highly changed environment. However, Wates FM’s distinctive standpoint is a highly bespoke and consultative approach to this process, delivered by a team of experts. We don’t profess to have all our FM services in house and nor do we want to; we want the agility to assess the marketplace for the very latest innovations and best-fit suppliers that meet the needs of our clients in the most cost effective way.

Either way, it is more of the same for us as we step forward into this new phase of social distancing within the workplace. Nobody is better placed to help companies adjust to a new normal than a contractor for whom this normal is really not all that new at all.

  • DOWNLOAD the full guidelines detailing the five step plan for managing the safe return to the workplace.
  • CONTACT one of our team if you have any questions.
Our five step plan for managing the safe return to the workplace

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