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RICS – COVID-19: Return to Office (RTO) Guidance

  • What do offices need to do to allow and prepare for reopening?
    • The reopening of offices must be based on appropriate risk assessments and safe systems of work, with a focus on physical distancing, adequate ventilation, effective hand and respiratory hygiene, and face coverings. Offices are expected to adjust their premises to ensure they are mitigating the potential transmission of COVID-19, as many have already done so.
  • What does “phased and limited” mean?
    • Employers will be able to determine who is able to return to the office, based on their own unique circumstances. They will be required to calculate the maximum number of people who can safely physically distance within the premises. They will also be encouraged to consider who would benefit from a return to the office, including: for mental health or disability reasons; those who have less appropriate settings for working at home; those who need to be in the workplace for priority reasons; those who are new to the organisation and require training/mentoring; and to ensure the sufficient provision of first aid and fire safety duty holders.
  • Will face coverings be required?
    • Face coverings are recommended for workplaces when the distance of at least 2m is not possible to maintain, and they are also recommended for communal areas, however they should not be seen as a substitute for physical distancing, ventilation, and hygiene.
  • Will testing be required for employees to enter offices?
    • No; workplace testing in Scotland is targeted at settings with higher transmission sites and areas identified by local health boards. The Government explicitly recommends against using temperature checks. The use of domestic COVID-status certifications is under consideration across the UK, but their use is unlikely to be mandated.
  • Are communal areas permitted?
    • Yes, communal areas are permitted. The Government recommends a series of initiatives to ensure distancing in common areas, but does not set out strict restrictions. Where communal spaces are reopening, it recommends that mitigating measures be put in place, such as staggered break times, screens, and markers/signage to reinforce distancing.
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Thomas Winfield
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