Being prepared for staff questions before going back to the office

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Are you ready for all the questions your employees are going to be asking when they return to work?

With a large portion of employees having either been working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic or have been on the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) due to a lack of work, there will be many questions asked before they return to the office.

After some time out of a physical office environment and with an imminent return to work for many, some employees may be feeling anxious about returning to work.

As a means to calm anxieties prior to returning staff to a physical workspace, Managers or HR departments should try and find ways to engage with employees to share what the new environment will look like.

However, it is possible that employees will still be concerned about the new way of working going forwards. So, to help consider these anxieties here are a list of questions that employees are likely to consider ahead of their return-to-work. This could help you plan for answers and their return.

  1. Have you carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment?

The health and safety of staff should be a top priority for employers when bringing staff back to a physical workspace. Therefore, ensuring that your risk assessments have taken place and being able to answer questions on this is a good place to start.

  1. What measures have been put in place to protect employee health and safety?

Following on from the risk assessment, employers should implement changes to ensure health and safety. This could include measures such as alternating shift patterns, a re-design of the office layout and the installation of hand sanitising stations.

The ‘COVID-secure’ guidelines as issued by the Govt or by your Health and Safety expert should help to detail business strategies and help employers operate safely and assist in answering any questions that employees are likely to ask on this.

  1. What about my commute?

For some employees, the commute may be the thing they are most worried about. With many commuting via bus or train, braving public transport again is likely to be a concern for many returning workers.

If employees do rely on public transport to get into work, it is worth discussing how this will work with the employee, any delays that they may be subject to or maybe seeing whether homeworking may still be the best option for the time being, particularly for those living further away from the office.

It is worth to note that whilst employers aren’t legally responsible for the risks associated with work commutes, its good practice to be aware of any concerns and engage in a dialogue to seek to deal with those concerns.

  1. What is your stance on remote working going forwards?

There is no doubt that there will be an increased interest amongst employees to work from home more frequently.  Where this an appropriate consideration for an employer to operate flexibly or to support social distancing requirements in the office, such discussions should be taken to investigate this new way of working as soon as possible to either support or reduce uncertainty on this issue.

  1. What about the support for working parents?

During lockdown, many working parents have experienced the challenges of juggling childcare or home-schooling while working at the same time. Therefore, if working parents are asked to return to work imminently, it is important to find out what adjustments can be made for those with childcare responsibilities.

Employers have typically been very supportive of these requirements but need to suit their changing business demands. It would  be encouraged for employers to take discussion with their employees to identify and understand how an employee may need to balance family and work commitments, especially as this stands to be for a prolonged period of time.

For more information regarding health and safety and returning to work, please get in contact:

Have an amazing day and stay safe