image of different households socially distancing

Returning to the Office Workplace During COVID-19

Businesses can return to the office if COVID secure

From the 17th July 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement with regards to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the plans moving forward for businesses and office workers. His statement outlined this decision regarding employees returning to the office:

From 1 August, we will update our advice on going to work. Instead of [the] government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.

That could mean of course continuing to work from home, which is one way of working safely and which has worked for many employers and employees. Or it could mean making workplaces safe by following COVID Secure guidelines. Whatever employers decide, they should consult closely with their employees, and only ask people to return to their place of work if it is safe.

This means that it is now down to employers to decide whether or not to allow employees who have been working at home (since mid-March when the national lockdown was first announced), to return to the office or to continue working from home. Whatever the business decides, they must plan how employees can return to their office workplaces in a safe manner. 

Based on current government guidance, businesses should consider the following safety measures:

  • Whether to continue to work from home
  • Making offices and workplaces safe by following COVID secure guidelines
  • Communicate and consult closely with their employees


Working from home vs. working in the office

After months of working from home, many workers will be anxious about returning to the office over the next few months especially given that COVID-19 is still present – and cases across the UK are rising as the R (reproduction) number goes above 1. Because of this, it is crucial that businesses carefully consider whether returning staff to the office is absolutely necessary, and if so, whether they’re able to protect their staff within that working environment.


How to safely return to the office

Businesses making the decision to return staff to the office workplace should make sure that they assess the work environment, ensuring they’ve carried out a risk assessment and that it’s COVID secure and that their employees feel safe returning to the office.


  • Employees who feel unwell, or have the symptoms of the coronavirus, should stay at home and not come into the office
  • Put social distancing measures in place and make every effort to make sure staff comply with these guidelines
  • Implement sanitising stations, and increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning
  • Use screens or barriers to separate workers from each other
  • Look at the layout of your office and if possible, implement back-back, or side-to-side working with social distancing in place, rather than face-to-face work stations
  • Reduce the number of staff members coming into contact with each other, this can be through staggered start and leave times, or through reducing the number of people allowed in an office environment at any one time

Above all, it’s important to recognise that you cannot, and should not, ask employees to work in an unsafe environment. 


Contact Wessex Interiors

If you’re interested in office refurbishments, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our friendly and professional team today by calling 02380 663 100, or through filling out our online enquiry form, and we’ll be in touch.