Despite the government urging workers to return to their workplaces, a recently published survey found staff in the UK are more sceptical about returning to their offices than workers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
So how can property be made Covid-secure in order to reassure staff?
A common problem is that most commercial properties tend to use fairly basic air filters – ones with low minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings – that generally catch less than 20% of viral particles. Changing to air filters with a MERV rating of 13 or more will capture more than 80% of airborne viral particles.
In buildings without mechanical ventilation systems, or to supplement systems in high-risk areas, portable air purifiers can also be effective in controlling airborne particle concentrations. Most high-quality portable air purifiers – those fitted with medical-grade HEPA filters – capture 99.97% of particles.
Many offices have already put in place solutions for reducing contact, such as touch-free hand sanitisers. Extending sensor-activated zones, such as digitalised reception areas or touch-free lifts, is the next step.
Where surfaces do need to be touched, using copper, brass and bronze for regularly touched surfaces such as door knobs and lift buttons can prevent them from becoming reservoirs for the spread of harmful microbes due to their antimicrobial properties.
Nine in 10 employees say they would be uncomfortable commuting on public transport so space should be allocated for bike shelters and showers to encourage cycling to work.
Many property owners may decide to obtain official accreditation, given the fact that employees are likely to cite the safety of an office environment as a key attraction for remaining with an employer.
The WELL Building Standard, for example, monitors the features of a building to safeguard health and wellbeing. Administered by the International WELL Building Institute, it has been updated to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rolfe Jackson is a director of McBains