Man walking to the office

How to best prepare your team for returning to the office

We asked Paul Dutnall, Head of Operations & Co-working at Work.Life, for his advice on planning a return to the office.

Events of the last 12 months have presented employers with numerous complex challenges. Rapidly changing regional restrictions and lockdowns meant that teams needed to become increasingly adaptable, as they adjusted to working from home or spending time on furlough.

At the start of the pandemic, most employees had no option but to quickly adjust to working from home – and in some cases, for the first time ever – for considerably longer than any of us expected. Now, as the vaccine rollout gathers pace, we have a little more time to plan our return to the workplace and ensure that employees are well prepared to resume office life once it is safe to do so.

Woman in office

Encouragingly, after months of home working, BRITA VIVREAU’s latest research* reveals that employees are keen to return to the workplace.

Over half (56%) are looking forward to spending time with their colleagues and 40% will be happy to have a dedicated workspace once again.

Despite this, almost two-thirds (63%) of employees are now seeking greater flexibility, and hope to spend at least half their time working from home. As a result, the ‘typical’ working week could, once again, look very different.

[1] * Research throughout was carried out by 3GEM amongst 1,000 people living in the UK (December 2020), unless stated otherwise.

As ever, good communication is the key to a smooth transition, so here are my five tips on the best way to prepare your team for their return.
office meeting

1. Gather feedback:

When you’re planning a potential return to the office, it’s always a good idea to involve your team. So run a survey, and listen to what your employees think about when, where, and how you should return.

This feedback should inform your decisions, ensuring everyone is on the same page and supports the plans.

Creating plans in office

2. Create clear guidelines:

When you’ve made your plans for returning to the office, share them – and be transparent about why you’re choosing this route. If you’re exploring team rotation or changes to your office layout, it’s especially important to ensure that everyone understands your proposition and any new processes.

Create clear guidelines (ideally delivered in a document or via email) that explain your plans and the reasons for them. That way, your employees have something to refer back to.

Woman sitting in front of laptop

3. Be sensitive:

While some employees will be excited at the thought of returning to the workplace, others might be more apprehensive. Everyone is different, so try to be sensitive to employees’ needs.

If anyone has safety worries, childcare issues, or any other valid concerns about returning to the office, try to deal with these on a case-by-case basis. Creating feedback loops is a good way to address employees concerns.

Flexible working

4. Focus on flexibility:

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that businesses need to be flexible. The same goes for returning to the office.

When you do return, assess what works well and what doesn’t, gather regular feedback, and make changes to your strategy as necessary.

Two colleagues talking

5. Show support:

Finally, it’s been a period of huge uncertainty for businesses and their employees, so as you look to return to the office, ensure that your staff understand why it’s so important to be back.

Keep up strong internal communication, and work with team leaders to ensure all employees feel supported and happy.

Two women using laptops

Remember, it will take time for everyone to adjust to another new routine.

But this is a great opportunity to make plans and consider positive changes that can help to build excitement about your team’s return to the workplace.

If you’re responsible for designing or building office spaces and would like additional support in meeting the needs presented by COVID-19, please get in touch with our Dispenser Customer Service Team via 034567 496 555 or

Alternatively, keep an eye on our support pages for the latest advice, resources and insights on operating safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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