Two metre social distancing equals a tragic economic state?

For most in the world of FM it has been known for some time that attempting to put in place measures to achieve a social distancing requirement of two meters renders most buildings no longer fit for purpose. The function for which that building has been procured and configured cannot be performed as, essentially, the necessary resources just cannot be accommodated. Maximum occupancy, given the two metre social distancing, being some 30-40% of normal, and the additional challenge of lifts for buildings above 5 floors high, questions the viability of occupying that building.

At least now those who set the guidance are beginning to discuss the impact of the imposed two metre social distancing. The conclusion of those debates is that the guidance will need to be changed to one metre social distancing to prevent an economic tragedy. A position that the Stop and Think! team supports even if it is a little late in coming. But this only helps the viability of occupying the building and not the productivity of the functions performed from within the building. Productivity being impacted by many factors for example :

  • Sanitation and hygiene protocols
  • The inability of staff the get to the place of work (public transport challenges)
  • Getting into and moving around the building (productivity reduction) especially above 5 floors
  • Staff “cocooning” behaviours driven by their perceived risk of infection

In short, it is the productivity of the functions provided from within the building that determines whether or not it is economically viable to open a building, or to reconfigure where (change of location) and how functions are to be delivered.

Even if it is determined that a building should be re-opened, then the Space Segmentation and Occupation Viability and Occupant Risk assessment (OVOR) processes still need to be exercised to ensure the lowest possible operating cost

A reduction to one metre social distancing helps, but is not a silver bullet……..