As restrictions ease, lots of our members are thinking about returning to work and how to do it in the safest possible way. Also high on their agenda are rent payments and the long-term security of their facilities during turbulent times.
That’s why this week at Heart of the City we invited some ambassadors to talk rent, redesign and negotiation. Matthew Bonye and David Bennett from law firm Herbert Smith Freehills joined us to talk from a legal standpoint about engaging with your landlord on rent. They also gave guidance on health and safety considerations you’ll need to take as you re-open your business. And giving us tips on re-design and safe re-opening, we heard from Matthew White, Head of Design at Nando’s. He shared the approach Nando’s has taken to re-open both its offices and restaurants safely.
We’ve shared our top takeaways from the session:
The good news is most landlords aren’t looking to take back possession of commercial property – it’s often not in their best interest. So, when it comes to rent negotiations, most landlords want to find a middle ground. It’s important to communicate with your landlord and be clear on their expectations and plans for the future. The Government’s code of practice is helpful here – it lists ways that tenants and landlords can work together to address rent payment issues.
All businesses are expected to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with Government guidelines. This should outline the control measures you’ve put in place to look after the health and safety of your employees who need to return.
When considering control measures, it’s helpful to visualise where an employee will be and what they’ll do in a normal working day when on site. By drawing layouts, you’ll be able to map out two-metre distances and understand how people enter and leave the building. Then, start with the quick and low-cost actions which are often the most effective ones. For example, get your floor markings down and print some posters to put up reminding people to keep a distance. Finally, because lockdown laws and guidelines continually change, you should take a flexible approach to your redesign. As a result, it’ll be much easier if you need to adapt to these changes.
Responsibility – tenant or landlord?
If you’re a tenant in a shared office, it can be unclear who’s responsible for the health and safety of people entering the building. There should be full cooperation from both the tenant and landlord, and joint responsibility for enforcing control measures.
If people who aren’t your direct employees (such as contractors or visitors) are coming into your workplace, you should review your contractor’s policy. Agree beforehand the precautions they should take to be in line with your policy. You could also draft these into your terms and conditions to have a written record of their agreement.
Don’t miss our next Survive and Thrive session! We’re keeping up with the latest changes to the furlough scheme, specifically focusing on flexible furlough and dealing with furlough fatigue. Sign up here.