Coronavirus - return to office working

How to have a conversation about returning

If the colleague still wishes to return to office‑based working despite all the measures in place, it's important that you discuss the following with them.

The reality of working in an office during a global pandemic needs to be stressed. Workplaces have changed immeasurably since lockdown, and colleagues who are asking to return to office‑based working need to understand what it’s going to be like. Make sure you cover each of these points and that the employee understands how things at work have changed. 

How things at work have changed

  1. Manage expectations - offices will not be opened on an ad-hoc basis as a response to demand from colleagues to return to work. This process will be led by the restrictions that are in place, nationally and locally.
  2. Travel to work – colleagues need to think about how they’re going to get to work and make themselves aware of the legal requirements in place regarding the use of public transport, as well as the increased risk of infection.
  3. Working indoors - while there will be measures in place to lower the risk of infection, there must be an acknowledgement that working indoors in enclosed spaces carries a higher risk than working in your own home.
  4. Work location – the colleague may be required to work in an alternative Council building (basically, it may not be the one they've been based in).
  5. Restricted capacity - given the social distancing restrictions that are in place, there will be a limited number of workstations available on any given day. This means that they'll not be working at their normal workstations with their normal work colleagues.
  6. Social distancing - colleagues will be socially distanced from each other. It must be stressed that this could make colleagues feel more isolated given that they'll be working broadly on their own and in a different work location to their usual one.
  7. Working environment - colleagues will not have access to storage drawers or lockers. They need to arrive with their own equipment (laptops, chargers, stationery, etc.) and take it all away with them at the end of the day. This is in order to minimise the amount of movement throughout the office, which in turn minimises the risk of infection.
  8. Catering - there will be no catering facilities available on site.
  9. Face coverings - colleagues will have to wear face coverings in line with Scottish Government guidance as they move around the building.
  10. Temperature - offices are likely to be cooler, as they will need to be properly ventilated, in line with current guidance, as an additional measure against infection.

If they still want to be considered for a return to office-based working

If, after the conversaion, you've decided to support their decision, then:

  1. Advise them that you're supportive.
  2. Submit the request to [email protected] - mark the email urgent.
  3. Enclose a copy of the completed checklist (this will treated in strictest confidence).