Bankers, lawyers, and accountants will have to follow one way systems and strictly limit the number of people in elevators as they begin to return to offices in Canary Wharf.
Canary Wharf Group, which owns and operates the London office hub, has drawn up detailed plans to ensure staff can safely return to their offices, according to the Financial Times.
The FT reports that proposals include: turning high-traffic areas of the estate into one-way systems to enforce social distancing; keeping doors open to limit the need to touch handles; and limiting elevators to four people per lift.
Touchscreen maps in Canary Wharf’s malls will also be switched off and parks will be closed. Public urinals will remain shut and people will be forbidden from overtaking others on escalators across the estate.
The proposals are likely to severely limit the number of people who can ultimately return to offices in Canary Wharf, which is home to the skyscraper headquarters of Barclays (BARC.L), HSBC (HSBA.L), JP Morgan (JPM), and Citi (C), among others.
Around 120,000 people work in offices in Canary Wharf, according to property group Knight Frank. Howard Dawber, managing director of strategy at Canary Wharf Group, told the Financial Times he estimates half the working population could return with social distancing measures in place.
It comes as the UK government begins to ease lockdown restrictions and encourage people who can’t work from home to return to the office.
Many banks have kept skeleton staff in offices throughout the crisis to conduct sensitive and essential work such as trading.
However, staff are not expected to rush back to buildings in Canary Wharf. Barclays told staff this week not to expect a return to the office until mid-June at the earliest and even then it could be gradual.
Barclays chief executive Jes Staley had previously said packed offices would likely be “a thing of the past”, suggesting more staff could work remotely or from Barclays extensive branch network in the UK.
Goldman Sachs (GS) has also told staff not to expect a return to normal. The investment bank, which does not have a Canary Wharf presence, told staff last week it would be introducing social distancing measures among other precautions when employees do begin to filter back to its offices.
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