Returning to work and reassuring anxious employees

As businesses start to consider returning to the workplace, we provide guidance on how best to manage this:

Employee safety must be the priority during the initial return to work period. Employees must be reassured that the necessary measures have been put into place to ensure their safety, which means sharing risk assessments and ensuring that employees are aware of the office protocols in terms of distancing, face coverings and sound hygiene practices.

Some employees may be cautious about returning to the workplace for fear that it puts them at a greater risk of contracting coronavirus. This may be fuelled by news reports from health officials warning of the risks of easing restrictions too early, especially if they are yet to receive both doses of the vaccine.

Examples of how employers can help reduce anxiety in returning to the workplace include:

  • conduct pre-return meetings to ensure that all concerns are heard and considered
  • undertake an employee survey to determine any anxieties in advance of returning
  • staggering shift patterns where applicable and improving ventilation
  • retaining home working measures on a rotational basis
  • transferring some aspects of working online for the foreseeable future, including virtual training and/or online client meetings
  • considering alternating desk positioning and entry / exit into the building

It is still yet to be seen how the next few months will play out. However, it is advisable to follow the measures laid out in government guidelines and consult with reluctant employees, ensuring that all conversations are documented and that support is provided to reassure anxious employees.

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