UCL Consultants Ltd


Savile Row Projects commissions UCL Consultants study to examine preparing for the workforce return

1 February 2021

The study aimed to provide landlords, business owners and facility managers with independent and unbiased decision-making guidance that is rooted in science with short, medium and long-term practical recommendations.

Image: Savile Row Projects ltd

As employers consider the latest logistics and legal implications of a vaccinated workforce, Savile Row Projects commissioned a team of experts in virology, construction, behaviour, and architecture from UCL Consultants (UCLC), part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise (UCL I&E), and property professionals, to examine multiple strategies and products which will help limit the transmission of COVID-19 and other viruses in the workplace.  

The key findings conclude that embracing these improvements will support and reassure workers within the new office environment returning to work. The recommendations will not only help tackle the transmission of viruses such as COVID-19 but will support the reduction of absences from other illnesses and conditions, reduce psychological distress, improve sleep activity patterns, improve stress recovery and cognitive performance.

Mark Lane, Managing Director, Savile Row Projects, who specialise in acoustic room solutions for some of the world’s most innovative office spaces, said: “Employee wellbeing has to be front and centre for all organisations.   To retain the best talent, businesses will not only have to be able to demonstrate they offer a safe place to work with contingency plans for future infections, but also a real incentive for people to leave the comfort and safety of their homes to travel into work whether that be social hubs, relaxation areas or indoor gardens.” 

The UCLC study, was supported by three conferences in partnership with senior experts from  Savile Row Projects with partners, CBRE (global real estate services), MCM (architecture & design), Sandy Brown Associates LLP (acousticians), Strähle (system partitions) and Adynaton (asset management and development).

The study highlighted physical changes to buildings as well as office interiors these include:

  • Air management
    Airborne transmission of viruses in poorly ventilated spaces is a concern and not all air-conditioning filters are effective. It is suggested to treat air locally in the office to kill and manage the virus; UVGI and HEPA filters are the most effective, especially where re-circulation of air cannot be avoided.  HEPA filters will capture larger droplets that contain virus particles and UVGI filters damage the structure of the virus but can be expensive to retrospectively install.  There are now portable UVGI filters available that are ideal for meeting rooms and open-plan areas.  Floor based air conditioning systems are also an alternative as they create upward air currents to carry the virus away. 
  • Surface finishes 
    Consideration should be given to the choice of materials used within the workplace as some are more effective when cleaned, preventing the harbouring of the virus. 
  • Partition materials 
    Flexible and relocatable partitions will be more adaptable and sustainable than traditional plasterboard to better support the changing demands of the organisation.  
  • Acoustics
    In reconfigured office spaces with the introduction of further hard surfaces, background noise is likely to be exacerbated with colleagues socially distanced, increased use of video conferencing, as well as possible noise from increased ventilation. This generates a need to reconsider the workplace acoustic design to accommodate the new working environment.  
  • Touch-free technology
    Increased automation to reduce touch buttons.
  • Light
    Offices should be re-configured to allow more daylight and better views, using blue-enriched white lights which have been shown to improve motivation and reaction time, compared with standard white light. The correlated colour temperature may also improve alertness as well as cause less irritation, eye discomfort and headaches. It can also be a mitigation strategy for controlling and managing the viability of some infectious agents indoors.  


Provided by Savile Row Projects ltd.


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