The daily commute, hot desking or the regular staff room catch up – they all seem like things of the past, but as lockdown starts to ease, many bosses are thinking about opening up their workplaces again.

Founder of Ladybay HR Pam Cannell has been looking at what companies need to consider when thinking about a safe return to work.


The first thing to find out is how your team feel about coming back to the office. During lockdown, many people have experienced heightened levels of anxiety, they may be shielding or don’t feel comfortable about getting the bus to work or sitting in an office all day.

It’s vital as a boss that you listen to their concerns and do what you can to support and address their needs. Ensuring that your team feels they’re being listened to during this time is a key part of a successful return to work and it will help you retain the talent you have in the business.


You will need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment to make sure your office is ready for the return of your team. Things to think about include encouraging and reminding everyone to socially distance by putting signs up in the office and looking at how people can move safely around the building.

Avoid sharing workspaces and ensure desks are at a safe distance and if that’s not possible, install screens or barriers. Enhance your cleaning measures, encourage staff to wash their hands regularly and provide hand sanitisers around the workplace.

Also think about staggering shifts so you don’t have everyone heading into the office for a 9am start time or try delegating different days in the week to the team so not all your staff are in at the same time.


Keep the communication channels open so that your employees know what measures you are putting in place to protect them and to help them feel more connected to the business. Don’t forget the staff on furlough who you are aiming to bring back and keep open lines of communication with them to reduce their feelings of uncertainty where possible.

There may be some who don’t want to come back into the office or would like to have a more flexible working day and it is important to listen to their requests.  Maybe productivity went up during lockdown and you are happy to stick with remote working, but you do need to know your rights as a boss when it comes to dealing with these requests.

Returning to the workplace is a step on the economic road to recovery and as a boss it’s your duty to ensure you do it safely and that your staff are at the centre of decisions you make. There is lots of help out there from Government guidance to expert HR advisors, so you can ensure your return to the office is a smooth and safe one.

Please contact me for a free, no obligation chat on 07581 152531 or get in touch here.