commuting safe

Back to the office? How can we make commuting safer?

On 19th July, many of the UK’s workforce will be heading back to the office. But how can we make our commutes safer in the midst of a pandemic?

In Boris Johnson’s press conference last night, he confirmed what many of us had suspected would be coming:

  • That so far, things look like we’ll be progressing to stage 4 of lockdown lifting on 19th July (after a 4 week delay from the initial 21st June date)
  • Final decision will be made on 12th July

The PM also outlined what the 4th stage will entail, reiterating some previously outlined changes and also adding some new information to the mix. Amongst the things we were already expecting:

  • All businesses will be able to reopen
  • The 1.5m plus rule goes
  • Limits on both indoor and outdoor gathering numbers are gone

He also confirmed two things we previously hadn’t been entirely sure of:

  • The legal requirement for mask wearing in indoor places will go. But some businesses may continue to request people wear masks
  • The recommendation to work from home where you can ends

The latter there was something of a surprise as it had previously been hinted at that work from home might continue to be a recommendation until even later.

So work from home ends on 19th July?

The Government guidance, assuming we proceed as planned to stage 4 of lifting measures, will go. In other words, the Government will no longer recommend that people work from home.

As such, it’s an expectation that many businesses will start to ask their staff back to the office (though many may continue to adopt a hybrid approach).

It may also mean that freelancers are requested to work on site again or micro business owners may start to consider heading back to the office.

Commuting to the Office – is it safe?

A good old “it depends.”

Boris Johnson’s suggestion that cases WILL rise means we can assume the experts believe we’re going to be experiencing more transmission. Enclosed spaces like the underground are likely to be hotbeds for transmission as they often are for the common cold and other illnesses too.

On the other hand, if you walk or drive to an office in the middle of nowhere, your risks are likely lower.

But however you commute, here are a few ways you might be able to make your commute safer (aside from the obvious “get your vaccine,” of course).

1. Walk or cycle

Not feasible for everyone, of course. But if you can walk, great. If you’re a bit further afield, then perhaps consider cycling. If you’re a tad concerned (like me) about hills and perhaps not being quite fit enough for the distance, then maybe consider an e-bike. Around 40% of people say they’d cycle more if they had one and while it still burn a decent number of calories, it might just mean you can commute a longer distance than you would on a 100% pedal power bike.

2. Can you avoid public transport any other way?

We don’t want to advocate everyone jumping in their cars instead of on public transport (not very green). But under the circumstances, could a small car sharing scheme be better for you than sharing a tube, train or bus with scores of other people? 

3. Skip the busiest times

If you’re able to get in super early and leave super early (or late and late, of course) you could potentially miss the busiest periods on public transport. 

4. Consider wearing your mask regardless

It remains to be seen which businesses and organisations will continue to request people wear face coverings. But public transport is an area where many an expert has suggested continued wearing might help. And while we associate mask wearing with protecting others around us than ourselves, if enough people continue to voluntarily wear face coverings, this could help make traveling in public transport safer.

4. Social distancing

Not easy on those packed rush hour trains, buses and tubes, I know. But wherever possible, simply consider sticking with the keep-your-distance approach that we’ve become accustomed to over the last 18 months!

Will we be commuting as normal?

For some employees, it will be back to the office on 19th July. For those who are self employed and can choose, it could be a bit of a mixed bag. Many of us have worked from home since long before the pandemic. Many others might be longing to get back to an office or co-working space.

But it’s hard to imagine a world where it’s back to the same level of commuting as pre-pandemic. 

Time will tell, I suppose…



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