Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for creative studios and shared workspaces

Published: 30 Jun 2020
Last updated: 5 Jul 2020 - see all updates

Guidance for the creative industries, in particular for providers and users of creative studios in Scotland, in safer working during the coronavirus pandemic.

5 page PDF

35.6 kB

5 page PDF

35.6 kB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for creative studios and shared workspaces
Workforce planning and support

5 page PDF

35.6 kB

Workforce planning and support

Information about supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not.

Minimising the spread of the virus will remain important in ensuring the overall protection of public health. Therefore planning for a safe return to work should assume that those able to work from home will continue to do so. Home-working should be the default, where possible, until Scottish Government advice changes.

As a minimum it is expected that:

  • health factors must be considered in any phasing of returns to work. Employees living in vulnerable or shielded households are only expected to return when new safe working environment measures have been fully tested and a return to onsite work is consistent with individual medical advice
  • new business practices should be assessed and modified in agreement between employers and employees.   Employers should be aware of other regulatory compliance measures and any impacts these may have
  • employers should also take account of travel-to-work considerations in phasing a restart, particularly those who may rely on public transport – see Transport Scotland advice pages
  • employers should take account of childcare arrangements, in the case of nurseries and schools not being fully operational.
  • employers should follow guidance on self-isolation of employees and their household members with symptoms, or having tested positive, or being advised to self-isolate through Test and Protect  More information on NHS Inform COVID-19.

Building confidence and supporting wellbeing

Returning workers may have some level of apprehension about how safe they may be and they may require reassurance and evidence that measures recommended in workplace risk assessments have been implemented.

Employers should recognise the need to have clear and regular communications with employees, using multiple channels to reinforce key messages.  Visual materials have proven to be beneficial in demonstrating changes that have been, or are being, made. This is particularly important where language barriers exist.

Employers and trade unions should send a clear message that the workplace is safe - maintaining employee confidence is vitally important.

Employers should ensure that the organisation’s culture is inclusive, with the aim that every employee should feel that they are returning to a supportive, caring and safe environment.

The pandemic has had an unequal impact across the workforce, as different employee groups and individuals will have been affected in diverse ways.  These may relate to factors such as their job role, and demographic/personal circumstances. Consequently, it is important that organisations foster a fair and inclusive working environment that does not tolerate discrimination. There is also a risk of victimisation of those infected, suspected, or more vulnerable to COVID-19 which should be addressed.

The following guides from the Health and Safety Executive provide useful sources of information:

It is important to take into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics. This could include involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or any steps taken may be inappropriate or challenging for them. Consideration should be given as to whether any particular measures or adjustments are required to fulfil duties under the equalities legislation. Reasonable adjustments should be made to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage, and the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers should be assessed. It is important to make sure the steps implemented do not have an unjustifiably negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example, those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.

For example given that there is some evidence which suggests that Covid-19 may impact disproportionately on some groups (Minority Ethnic communities), employers should ensure that Occupational Health Service provide practical support to Minority Ethnic staff, particularly where they are anxious about protecting themselves and their families.  All Minority Ethnic staff with underlying health conditions and disabilities, who are over 70, or who are pregnant should be individually risk assessed, and appropriate reasonable or workplace adjustments should be made following risk assessment.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission can provide advice on a range of issues such as non-discrimination, communication with employees on equality issues, adjustments for disabled people, support for pregnant employees, flexible working for those with caring responsibilities, support for employees affected by domestic abuse, how to deal with harassment at work, and mental health issues.

Test and Protect

Test and Protect, Scotland’s approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community.

The NHS will test people who have symptoms, trace people who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with someone who tests positive, and then support those close contacts to self-isolate.

People who have tested positive for the virus will need to self-isolate for a minimum of 7 days.

NHS contact tracers will interview them and get in touch with people they have been in close contact with, and tell them they must self-isolate for 14 days.  If your employees are informed by a contact tracer that they should isolate, you should help them to do so straight away.

A close contact is defined as:

  • those that are living in the same household as a case
  • face to face contact with a case for any length of time within 1 metre of a case
  • extended close contact within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes with a case

Where Infection Prevention Control measures have been utilised such as protective screen or use of PPE the contact tracer will conduct a risk assessment to identify contacts at risk. The priority is to public health in order to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19.

Employers can utilise this further information on Test and Protect.

There may be a role for businesses across Scotland to assist with the effective operation of this system and further guidance will be provided at the appropriate point.


Pay for workers who are sheltering, self-isolating, sick or balancing care responsibilities is likely to be a source of concern for employees.  Businesses should work with trade union or workforce representatives to provide early guidance on relevant processes and support for individuals affected by these issues. Again opportunities to facilitate home working where feasible should be actively pursued and maintained.

Workers who are shielding should not be compelled to attend work and businesses should make arrangements to ensure those staff are not disadvantaged due to obeying medical advice. Businesses should explore measures such as suspending the normal application of sickness or disciplinary procedures related to attendance in these cases.


Businesses should also acknowledge the range of factors likely to cause stress or anxiety amongst employees, ranging from living with lockdown arrangements to concerns about travel, schools, caring responsibilities and relatives impacted by the virus, amongst others. This may have implications for mental health so managers should be conscious of how these factors may impact on the well-being of individual staff members.  Business and trade union or workforce representatives should be alert to this and direct anyone experiencing mental health issues towards available support.

Shift patterns

If you have a large workforce and previous shift models have resulted in crowding at entry and exit points you may wish to develop plans to change shift patterns to protect the workforce and to optimise productive capacity. This will reduce the risk of transmission by keeping pinch-points to a minimum. Such an approach would however require proper consultation with trade unions or employees if it involved a change in employee terms and conditions.

Travel to work

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) has provided COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings which reiterates that people should not travel if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms.  The HPS advice, and any subsequent safe travelling advice, such as that provided by Transport Scotland, should be factored into decisions on planned returns to work.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings

The HPS guidance  COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings also offers advice on the use of PPE, confirming that workplaces should only use PPE which is consistent with local policies and in line with measures justified by a risk assessment.

A risk-based approach focused on a hierarchy of control which seeks to eliminate risks is recommended.  This is achieved by combatting risks at source, adapting workplaces to individual needs, ensuring adequate staff training around processes to manage the risk and use PPE - where required.  Where PPE is deemed necessary, an adequate supply of the correct materials and items must be maintained and provided free of charge to workers who need it.  Any PPE provided must fit properly.

Consult the up to date advice on wearing face coverings which states that people must wear a face covering on public transport  and public transport premises such as train stations and airports from 22 June.


The interpretation and use of any guidance should be considered in line with normal protective security operations and practices where they exist. Where necessary, organisations should consult with and involve their security departments in the interpretation and implementation of this guidance. In particular, security should be considered in any revised risk assessment.

We do not advise the removal or alteration of, or reduction in, existing protective security measures without providing clear recommendations (e. g.  from the National Technical Authority/police Counter Terrorism specialists) on how to maintain effective protective security.

This should extend to measures which are not primarily intended to provide a protective security benefit, but which do anyway.  For example, removing street furniture could make moving or queueing pedestrians more vulnerable to vehicle-as-a-weapon attacks.

Security staff should remain focused on security duties. Where COVID-19 creates additional staffing requirements, e. g.  for queue management, employers should ensure additional suitable staff resource is made available. Employers should ensure that security staff feel safe, e. g. having access to appropriate PPE and hand-washing facilities, and the confidence to raise any concerns. Further detailed guidance can be found on the Centre for the Protection of National Industry - staying secure during COVID-19 and the UKG National Counter Terrorism Security Office webpages.



First published: 30 Jun 2020 Last updated: 5 Jul 2020 -