Students sitting outside

Social distancing in the workplace

Maintaining a safe distance from others remains one of the most effective methods of preventing the spread of this virus and ensuring your safety and the safety of your colleagues. 

Effective social distancing also involves reducing the amount of day-to-day contact with other people.

Social distancing measures apply to everyone and should be followed wherever possible. Within our workplaces, we need to avoid crowding and minimise opportunities for the virus to spread by maintaining a safe distance between individuals wherever possible. This advice applies both to inside and outside of the workplace.

To ensure that we can maintain effective social distancing it is necessary to change our normal practices. Various measures have been put in place across university buildings and campus to achieve this. You will notice in some areas that one-way systems have been put in place and in certain areas specific doors have been designated as entrances and exits. These measures have been put in place to help control the flow of individuals and it is important that everyone follows them. There is additional signage to inform people of the new systems, reminding everyone to follow social distancing advice and to wash their hands regularly. 

Depending on your area of work you may also have in place local arrangements and temporary operating protocols, which will be explained to you on your return to the workplace and you must ensure that you do follow these guidelines.  

The regularity of cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly has been increased, with a focus on higher usage areas such as toilets and kitchens. In addition to the more regular cleaning schedule, cleaning materials have been provided in all communal areas to enable individuals to wipe down surfaces after use.

High usage areas

There are certain high usage areas such as photocopy rooms, kitchens and toilets that need to be carefully managed as there is greater risk of spreading infection in these areas.

The number of staff in these areas at any one time will need to be managed and many of these areas will be operating on a ‘one in one out’ basis’. Floor markings have been placed in some areas to enable individuals to queue at an appropriate distance.

We would ask to be mindful when they are entering areas such as kitchens, toilets and photocopying rooms to ensure that there is sufficient space available and to wait at an appropriate distance if there is not.

Kitchens and rest areas will be open for members of staff to use but we would ask everyone to carefully follow social distancing practices whilst using these areas. There should be no more than one person in the kitchen at any time and before handling of communal items in the kitchen such as kettles, fridges etc. all staff should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.

Communal kitchen crockery and utensils should not be used at this time and staff members should bring in prepared food for lunchtime in sealed containers and use their own cutlery and crockery. You should clean and store these at home and not in the communal kitchens.

Staff members are reminded to wash their hands using soap and water for 20 seconds, before and after eating. Unfortunately, during this time we are not able to sit with colleagues at break time. This may require mealtimes to be extended and staggered to avoid overcrowding in these spaces.

Additional cleaning products will be provided in high usage areas to ensure that you are able to clean equipment and surfaces before use.

Lifts and stairways

The use of lifts in buildings should be avoided at all times where possible and priority should be given to disabled persons, those with mobility issues and to those who are transporting equipment or material, where transport on stairways would not be possible or safe. To ensure social distancing is maintained only one person will be allowed to use a lift at any one time.

In some buildings, some stairways have been designated as an ‘up route’ or a ‘down route’ to prevent face-to-face interaction of persons, and to ensure social distancing is maintained.