8 Jul 2020

Returning to Work: What Should You Expect in the Office?

As increasing numbers return to the workplace environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, your employer has a raft of considerations they must adhere to.

Focusing on limiting the spread of transmission, these alterations are essential if your company wants to reopen following lockdown.

COVID-19 and the current pandemic

A pandemic that began at the start of 2020 has swept across the globe, paralysing whole nations as those in charge tried to limit the transmission of a highly contagious virus.

Starting in China, coronavirus hit Asia, then Europe before moving on to the Americas and Africa, killing hundreds of thousands of people and infecting over 10 million.

The pandemic is entering a new phase as societies attempt to return to a form of normality far removed from the restriction on all but essential movement of previous months.

Shops are reopening for business, followed by restaurants and pubs. With museums and hotels also set to open their doors once again, society is beginning to adjust to a new normal, with social distancing measures in place.

Social distancing and the workplace

The majority of those still working are being encouraged to work from home wherever possible. But the migration from no-one to a handful of employees returning to the office environment comes with caveats that require businesses to ensure the health and safety of their staff. These include:

  • Creation of a risk assessment taking COVID-19 into consideration and sharing it with employees
  • Reducing risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures
  • Reducing the risk of transmission when entering and leaving the building and in common areas
  • Ensuring social distancing at workstations can be maintained
  • Ensuring the workplace is kept clean during the workday, particularly surfaces which may be used by multiple people.


Will my company re-open as normal?

No. All companies are required to factor in social distancing and COVID-19 related alterations to make their office safe and secure. A risk assessment should have been completed prior to the reopening with a host of considerations taken into account.

What should I do if I have concerns about returning to the office?

Companies should be expecting staff to have concerns during these uncertain times. By contacting your HR department, they should be able to discuss your issues and provide information to any questions you may have. If you still have concerns, contact ACAS for further assistance.

What should I expect when returning?

The office environment may look significantly different to when you were last in. As part of a COVID-19 secure office, you should see increased cleaning and more hand sanitizer available. Common areas may not be available and there could be a one-way system in operation to limit interaction between teams. These are just a few examples of what you might see upon your return to the office.

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