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Planning a safe Return to the Office in 2021

Amid the ongoing challenges that 2020 brought with it, and as the new year begins, it’s about time we look forward to the year ahead. Though uncertainty continues, and we are currently sat squarely in our third, and least exciting lockdown of the lot, developing a future strategy for the safe return to the office, in conjunction with effective communication and support, could make or break staff confidence and morale.

As you plan your business strategy for 2021, it’s time to take a fresh look at your real estate, leveraging the learnings and experience of real estate consultancies such as DeVono to reimagine your office space, and in doing so redefine it as a place of deliberate purpose, rather than benign presence.

Firstly, for a well-planned and safe return, businesses should conduct a Return-to-the-Office (RTO) risk assessment. Having conducted a large number of these assessments, our advice to firms is to communicate openly with employees as they plan for their return. Our research shows that whilst the majority of firms maintained frequent communications with their employees, 37% did not do so. A consequence of which is misinformation becoming widespread amongst staff. Areas of concern will need to be addressed and mitigated in accordance with government guidelines to ensure confidence amongst your people.

DeVono’s RTO Risk Assessment serves to provide the data needed to help businesses prepare for a return to a ‘COVID-19 Secure’ workplace. The approach is focused on six specific areas, and for each, we provide guidance and information on where you have risk, and suggest changes or next steps required to mitigate, or manage that risk.

The requirement to ensure that your offices are ‘COVID-19 Secure’ before staff may return to the office, means that a series of actions are likely to be required to ensure compliance. The impact of getting it wrong would be significant, and so making early interventions will inevitably help to ensure a smooth and controlled return to work.

DeVono has summarised the UK Government’s guidance for employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely.

The RTO Risk Assessment is uniquely appropriate for this time of continued crisis. Any organisation contemplating a safe return to the office, and those considering their post-COVID-19 workspace space strategy should conduct a thorough RTO Risk Assessment to identify whether or not your current set-up allows for an effective and safe ‘Day 1’ return to the office, or if changes are needed to achieve that goal. DeVono’s RTO Risk Assessment is a remote exercise that can be completed in the space of one week, at a price we believe is affordable to any business, even at a time when for most businesses, costs remain under enormous scrutiny, and value for money from any supplier is imperative.

Moving forward, our ‘Commercial Real Estate Roadmap’ is a handbook to help all businesses devise their future commercial real estate strategy, both during, but more importantly, post the COVID-19 pandemic. In the handbook, we outline the ways in which business leaders should approach commercial real estate decisions using our ‘Return, Revitalise and Transform’ model. As a part of the ‘Return’ phase, we recommend conducting an RTO Risk Assessment in the immediate/ short term.

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Planning a safe Return to the Office in 2021

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