We’re getting further down the roadmap out of lockdown. In April, 2021 some restrictions were lifted and non essential shops to open and hospitality businesses such as pubs and cafes were allowed to open for customers sitting outside. 
The 17th of May, 2021 has seen a further ease of these restrictions as businesses can serve customers inside as well (rules of 6 withstanding). 
This has been good news for customers and a relief for businesses but has also brought about a sense of anxiety, especially for those who have spent a considerable amount of time on furlough due to lockdown restrictions. They may feel anxious at the thought of returning to work and staying safe. 
The return to work is a transition that may not be easy for some members of staff, whose concerns could affect their wellbeing and in turn, this could have an impact on how valued they are feeling in the workplace. 
Employers need to be aware of this and act accordingly by putting in place certain measures to ensure that the transition runs smoothly and staff are kept informed each step of the way. 
We have created a ‘Returning to Work After lockdown’ checklist to help make this transition as smooth as possible. 

Keeping employees informed 

One of the most vital elements to ensure a smooth return to work transition is communication. Ideally, businesses should have kept in regular contact with staff throughout lockdown, however, it’s even more vital at this stage that employers maintain regular contact with their staff. 
Employers should explain what their plans are for re-opening and the role that each member of staff has in these plans. They should make staff aware of what the end goal is, whether any changes have occurred, and what they think a successful return to work / return to opening transition looks like. 
Let staff know that there are open lines of communication and reassure them that they will be kept ‘in the loop’.k on this text to edit it. 

Employee Wellbeing 

Staff may have a lot of questions regarding their return to work. They should be provided with a safe space to have these questions answered. This could be via email or a Zoom call, prior to their return. 
Employers should consider what issues will be on their staffs’ minds. Will there be any changes in workload? In staffing? In their role? In their skills? Some staff may not have been furloughed and may have feelings of resentment towards those who are returning to work. 
In order to avoid any negativity or anxiety employers must be aware of these and have strategies or policies in place to deal with them 
Suggestions to help with this are: 
Speak with staff members before their return to explain workloads or provide work time table well in advance 
Make staff aware of who is returning to work, and who they will be working with on each shift, for example 
Organise a Zoom call for staff to meet up virtually prior to their return to work 
Provide counselling sessions for staff 
Provide refresher training 
Remind staff that they have a Right to Disconnect 

Flexible Working to Help the Transition 

Whilst some of the workforce have been furloughed, others have been able to continue working in more flexible ways. Working from home has become something that a lot of employees have experience of now. 
This may be an agreement that both employers and employees would like to continue with going forward. If this is the case then proper measures must be put in place. 
Considerations for agile working include: 
The type of agile working - is this a permanent or temporary arrangement? 
The responsibilities of the employer - are managers able to manage remote employees and keep them included? 
The responsibilities of the employee - are staff managing to fulfil their roles, maintain levels of productivity and keep data safe and secure? 
Health and Safety - how can health and Safety provisions be adhered to? 
Equipment - do staff have the necessary equipment to do their job? 
Have a look at our Agile Working Policy for more details on these issues. 
The pandemic has increased feelings of anxiety in many different ways for many people. Concerns relating to illness and jobs have negatively affected people’s mental wellbeing. 
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and things are heading more towards a normal way of life, but the events and feelings of the past year remain at the forefront of people’s minds. 
By being aware of these issues, making considerations and putting policies in place, it is possible for a much smoother back to work transition for both employers and employees. 
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