This week, the Government has announced that the plan B restrictions, including work-from-home guidance, will end in England from Thursday 27 January.

What does this mean for remote working?

Businesses are encouraged to continue to follow Covid-secure protocols and maintain a level of flexible working where possible.

It’s clear to see that remote and flexible working has been largely beneficial for a number of organisations and the wellbeing of their employees.

Although the return of face-to-face interaction will be useful for most, employers are advised not to rush straight back into the office and consider all of their options, even with the restrictions coming to an end.

“We know that home working has generally been a success, with our research suggesting, overall, it’s led to improvements in people’s productivity and work-life balance… As a result, more employers are now looking at how to embed hybrid and other flexible working arrangements into their organisation in the long term,” Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD said.

What if employees want to continue working from home?

Whether or not an employee must physically return to work is ultimately down to the employer.

However, if an employee has been with the company for at least 26 weeks, they do have the right to request flexible working.

If an employer does receive a flexible working request, they are required by law to review it. If this isn’t done adequately, an employee can take legal action.

Therefore, it is crucial to have a level of good communication in place, taking the time to talk to your employees about what they feel most comfortable with, determining the best way to move forward.

How can you make your office safe?

As employees begin to return to work, it’s important that employers make sure they feel as comfortable and safe as possible in their surroundings.

Although the restrictions are being lifted, safety measures should still be kept in place as and where necessary.

Some ways to achieve this include:

  • Good ventilation
  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Providing hand sanitising stations
  • Easing employees back slowly
  • Regular cleaning
  • Encouraging frequent handwashing.

Employers must also keep in mind who within their team is most vulnerable, and who would benefit from continuing to stay at home, if feasible.

As always, it’s essential to communicate, stay vigilant and make well-informed decisions with your employees’ needs in mind.

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