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Social distancing could cost businesses £5,450 per employee, study finds

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Doubling the size of individual working spaces could cost UK offices an extra £5,450 per person. every year. (MCT/SIPA USA/PA Images)
Doubling the size of individual working spaces could cost UK offices an extra £5,450 per person every year. Photo: MCT/SIPA USA/PA Images

Social distancing safety measures could cost UK businesses about £5,450 ($7,059) extra per employee, every year, research suggests.

The average cost of prime office space in the UK is £394.90 per square metre. Meanwhile, the legal requirement of space in a UK office is five square metres per person — meaning UK businesses spend about £1,974.50 per year, per person, analysis by property website Bayut found.

However, the recommended size for a standard workspace is actually nine square metre per person — putting the average up to £3,554.10. Doubling this to allow for social distancing, as well as other safety measures, during the COVID-19 pandemic could cost businesses a staggering £5,450 extra per person per year.

READ MORE: The best London boroughs for a remote-working office

Some cities could end up spending a lot more. It’s no surprise London is likely to be the most expensive UK city to implement social distancing measures in, costing £787 per square metre, or £14,166 for 18 square metres — a difference of £10,231 between the legal requirement and socially-distanced cubicles.

Meanwhile, Reading is the second most-expensive city, at £418 per square metre. Businesses in Reading could end up paying about £7,942 per person, per year for their office needs — £5,852 extra per person, per year.

Manchester follows closely behind at £396 per square meter, or £7,524 for 18 square metres, costing business about £5,544 extra per person, per year.

READ MORE: Office workers save £500 a month by working from home

At the other end of the spectrum, Newcastle is the cheapest place to rent office space, even when allowing extra space for social distancing. Businesses in Newcastle pay about £266 per square metre of office space, or £5,054 for 18 square metres — an extra £3,724 per person, per year.

“It was no surprise that London is the most expensive, as it has always been seen as the number one location for businesses for many reasons,” said Sahar Khan, director of marketing at Bayut.

“However, with so much uncertainty and pressure to keep staff safe and well, it is natural that business owners are adapting to the new norm, are open to looking at what other options are available to them across the UK, and hence, are keeping an open mind to the effects this will have on their bottom line.”

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