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Three-Quarters of UK Businesses’ Operating Costs Have Risen with Safety Measures Introduced

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Over 76% of businesses in the UK have seen little to a substantial increase in operating costs as a result of implementing new safety measures in the workplace as a consequence of COVID-19.

The latest figures from ONS show the percentage of businesses within each industry that has seen a rise in costs when implementing personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene measures, routine COVID-19 testing, social distancing, shift working, and temperature checks, among other changes. Coworking spaces and flexible offices in the UK are among the businesses affected by rising operational costs, with many experiencing significant increases.

Social distancing

With many businesses reopening the doors to employees returning to work, the risen expenditure of operating costs is mandatory to enable a safe working environment.

In England, the current rule of six that is enforced today by Boris Johnson exempts workplaces. All office spaces are preparing for a 2m distancing operation for staff as well as the possibility of COVID-19 tests to be carried out.

Coworking management platform, Nexudus, has released the first product of its kind allowing coworking members and workspace users to pre-book their preferred seat and desk space with a new “floor plans” tool. To prepare for distancing measures in the workplace, companies that wish to optimally make use of flexible workspace can utilize the floor plans tool before choosing a coworking space that aligns with their needs.

Effects in other industries

91% of businesses in the real estate sector plan to implement social distancing in the workplace, according to the latest BICS results, whilst 88% of administrative and support service activities companies say the same.

As a further measure of safe social distancing, 39% of businesses in real estate have said they will be working in fixed teams to reduce unnecessary contact and interaction the workplace. With these two industries making significant changes to their workforce operations, the coworking and flexible office industry will undoubtedly see similar changes occurring in an effort to reduce face-to-face interaction in the workplace.

A coworking space in London.

Photo credit: Creative Works in London.

Safety measures

ONS have also included in the report a breakdown of businesses planning to or currently implementing new measures for the safety and well-being of staff. In the real estate sector, more than three quarters (77%) of businesses are implementing the use of PPE at work, 82% are extending hygiene measures, but a small portion (just 3%) are completing routine COVID-19 testing on staff.

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To minimize contact within the workplace, 29% of businesses are introducing shift working. Only 2% of real estate businesses are unsure of the safety measures they will be implementing.

Return to work

The report also shows that 7% of those furloughed in the real estate industry returned to the workplace in the period of July 27 to August 9. For the administrative and support service activities sector, this figure was 9%.

To ease the return to work, workspace operators can now set up their floor plans and include resources such as offices, dedicated desks, hot desks, meeting rooms, and board rooms. They can also list the amenities and features included in each resource. Users can see availability for those resources, together with the amenities for all available items and book one or more resources from their member’s portal to keep a safe and organized environment when returning to work.

For the full industry figures on returning to work and safety measures in the workplace, see the full ONS report here.

Figures used in this release were taken from the latest Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS) results, published on Office for National Statistics for the period July 27, 2020 to August 9, 2020.


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