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3. Working at home and returning to the workplace

This page is for those who are working at home and those who have not been in the workplace due to restrictions during the pandemic.

Who should go to work?

Employers should decide whether it is appropriate or possible for people to work from home.

Guidance on GOV.UK outlines steps that an employer should take when considering who needs to come into the workplace. These steps include considering those at higher risk from COVID-19 and consulting with their workforce.

Home working during the pandemic

Think about and agree with your workers what tasks that could be done from home. These could include:

  • dealing with customers online
  • using video conferencing for meetings

Decide what equipment you will give to people working from home.

Talk about how you’ll keep in touch while people are working remotely. This could include:

  • calling workers at home to see how they are
  • having ‘social’ meetings using video conferencing

Returning to work after a lockdown or other closure

If your workers have not been in the workplace for some time, and in particular if things have changed, it may be useful to talk to them about coronavirus precautions before they return to work.

You may also need to repeat discussions about workplace safety if:

How can I help my workers if they’re worried about returning to work?

It’s natural that people might be anxious about returning to work after time away from the workplace during the pandemic, for example.

They could be worried about things like:

  • when they will be allowed to return to the workplace
  • changes in your workplace, such as site rules, one-way systems
  • arriving at work

Ways you can help include:

  • talking through workers’ specific concerns
  • telling them how you’re making any adjustments to protect them at work, such as additional handwashing facilities, staggering start and finish times to avoid overcrowding or floor markings to help people stay apart
  • explaining how health and safety continues to be reviewed and how the risks are being managed
  • discussing any possible new ways of working such as some staff returning to work before others
  • making it clear you will always listen to any concerns they may have

Questions to help you talk about working at home or returning to work

  • How can we change things so more of us can work from home?
    • Think about the tasks that can only happen at work
    • Think about what could be done at home
  • What are your main concerns about coming back to the workplace?
    • Think about what worries you most
    • Think about how we can reassure you
  • What else can we do to help people coming back to work?
    • What can you do?
    • What can your manager do?
    • What can the company or organisation do?

Find out more

To help answer these questions:

Read our guidance on protecting home workers during the pandemic.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) provides useful guidance on talking to workers about returning to the workplace.

This page is reviewed regularly and updated to reflect any changes in the guidance.

Page last reviewed: 28 May 2021

Next review due: 30 June 2021

Updated 2021-05-28