By Isaac Chan

As restrictions begin to ease in most states, it’s only natural that employees will start returning to the workplace. If you’re an employer, however, you need to consider a few things before directing your employees to return to work.

1. Providing a COVID-Safe workplace

If you’re asking employees to return to the workplace, you should make sure that you’re able to provide them with a safe working environment. A safe environment is one where employees are able to socially distance from one another while working, and where you have the appropriate sanitation methods and practices in place.

If you have a large workforce, or it’s simply impossible to safely have everyone in the workplace at the same time, you may wish to divide your employees into groups and allocate each group a particular day in which they can attend the workplace.

In some states, businesses must have a COVID Safe Plan in place if any employees will be attending the workplace, so it’s important to be mindful of your safety obligations in the applicable state.

2. Workplace flexibility

If you’ve had employees working from home during the pandemic, you may wish to continue these arrangements with some employees, either temporarily or permanently. The pandemic has shown that many roles can productively continue from home, and some employees may prefer to work this way.

Employers should also be mindful of whether their employees have the ability to request flexible working arrangements.

3. Supporting your employees

Check-in with your employees and ensure that they are coping with the adjustments and are feeling comfortable to be back in the workplace. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, and the prospect of returning to the workplace can make some employees feel uncomfortable or anxious. Regular check-ins will help identify any areas where you need to provide support.

If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), this can be also a good opportunity to remind employees of the service and the support that it can provide.

As we transition back into the workplace, it’s important to have the appropriate procedures and support systems in place. By taking the extra steps to provide a safe and supportive workplace, you’ll be laying the foundation for a successful return to work.

Got a question about returning to the workplace? The team at HR Assured can advise you. Contact us today.

Isaac Chan is an experienced workplace relations consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured Australia. Isaac regularly handles complex workplace issues for all kinds of businesses, from start-ups to enterprise-level.