Returning to the Workplace

Business Insights

As many of us are now planning the return to our place of work, which for many of you will be the first time since the pandemic began, there are a few important things to remember in order to ensure that you protect the wellbeing of your employees.

Although there are strict government guidelines regarding the safe return of you and your employees to the workplace that will need to be reviewed and put in place prior to the 21st June, the onus of ensuring the safety of everyone is as much the responsibility of your employees, freelance and contracting staff as of the organisation. Therefore, you will need to ensure that hand sanitisers and masks are still available for use, but ideally you do not want to make your teams feel that they are entering a clinical and worrying environment.

Many organisations are reorganising their workspace to allow for social distancing, choosing to stagger breaks rather than risk the entire team gathering in a restricted area, such as a kitchen or rest area all at once, and not only ensuring that face masks and hand sanitisers are available, but that their workspace has had a thorough deep clean before their return. It is important that your employees feel that you have taken appropriate measures to ensure their safety without, however, compromising the needs of the organisation, and therefore I would suggest that an email ahead of the return or team meeting via zoom or teams is planned to communicate the plan.

Employees are keen to return to the workplace and have been missing the interaction with their colleagues. At the start of the pandemic, many were delighted to have the flexibility provided by working from home, very few missed their busy commute and maintained that their productivity had not suffered. Over the year, however, the picture has changed and numerous employees are starting to feel that by continuing to work from home when so many of their colleagues are returning, that they are in fact, missing out.

You may have already decided that you are not fully returning to the office, or you are planning a staggered return, and you may also want to offer flexible working arrangements for team members where business dictates that individuals can work from home. Additionally, we are recommending to many of our clients that they create a bespoke return for individuals who would prefer to have the second vaccine before arriving back to their place of work and this is proving popular too. However, while it is great to be understanding, do not fall into the trap of offering too much to your employees and only, where appropriate, agree a flexible working request or a staggered return to work for a trial period and review the situation regularly.

You will also need to remain compliant and follow best practice, and therefore I would suggest that you also review your current terms and condition of employment, and company handbook to also take account of the needs of employees working from home with due regard to their health and safety to ensure that it is up to date with the appropriate Covid legislation effective immediately. 

By Claire Ayerst, WorkPlace HR Limited


Claire is WorkPlace HR’s passionate and steadfast Director, her firm belief is that HR services can be commercial, practical and bespoke to the needs of our clients, of which forms the backbone of our organisation and the support that we provide to our client base.