What are you doing to make your office safe to return to?


We are a small company of 40 employees and are beginning to think about a plan to return everyone to the office.  We have done an employee survey to find out what people are thinking, concerns etc.  I think the general feeling is that as we have all been working from home since the end of March then why rush back unless its essential.

However the MD has a slightly different view and we at least need to explore HOW we make the workplace safe and if it's not possible or just too difficult then we will continue to work from home until government guidance changes.

So I'm interested to find out what you have done, for example in toilets, kitchens and other communal areas? Do you have hand sanitiser everywhere?  Temperature checks?  Alternating days in the office? How did you deal with those people with no medical issues as such but high anxiety about returning?  Is air conditioning an issue - I have asked our supplier the question but no response yet.

It would be great to find out what others are doing in similar situations.


  • Hi Sienna,

    I work in a school and we've put a lot in place to try to make the workplace safe as we clearly will all be returning next month as things stand, and as such our plans are still evolving. A quick summary would include: hand sanitiser everywhere (outside every room, fixed to the wall), cleaning throughout the day of touch points, one way 'traffic' where possible, bubbles of staff/pupils within different zones of the school, adapted timetables, staggered lunch and break periods to allow different bubbles to attend at different times, and lots and lots of communication with individuals about their needs.

    We've also put in place additional car parking, adopted a new cycle to work scheme, increased shower facilities etc, and we're trying at a product which sounds like fairy-dust to me (non-scientist) but which creates an electrostatic layer on all surfaces and which kills the virus on contact for 30 days. My scientific colleagues say it's sound, so we're giving it a go!

  • Johanna

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    5 Aug, 2020 10:57

    Hi Sienna, sounds like you've been following the CIPD recommendations here:

    We also have a returning to the workplace planner which may be useful https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/employees/covid-19-workplace-return-planner

  • Hi Sienna

    Initially, we allowed people working from home to gradually come back 1 or 2 days a week into the office (had to be agreed with their manager so that the amount of people in could be monitored).

    We have installed hand sanitiser points around the office as well as our sites and any shared printers have wipes and a bottle of sanitiser next to them with clear signs that they should be wiped down before and after every use. For our shared offices, screens have been installed between desks. Our drivers have each been given a hand sanitiser and packet of wipes. Break times and start/finish times have also been staggered.

    Our H&S manager came in and measured out all offices/kitchens/meeting rooms/break rooms and marked out social distancing with tape and there are signs telling people how many people are allowed in any one area at a time to comply with this. We also have one way systems in place where possible. All of our entrances have signs clearly displayed telling people not to enter if they are experiencing any symptoms, along with contact details for the tracing system.

    We have also asked all returning staff to fill in a survey which gives them a chance to raise any issues and if there is anything that they are worried about, their Line Manager will call and discuss this with them.

    Our H&S manager and I are also regularly updating staff (via email and noticeboards) about self isolation or any changes announced by the First Minister.

    I think that is everything! We have been open to all suggestions from staff as well, which i think has helped.
  • Hi Sienna
    My company's a similar size to yours but based across two locations. We are starting a very gradual return of only people who want to, for now. There are people who want to for various reasons - having a poor setup at home, lack of space, finding it easier to concentrate in the office, etc. We are saying for now we will have maximum 50% capacity on any given day, so people have to let the office manager know if they will be
    1. Returning permanently every day (a few people so far) or
    2. Coming in 1-2 days per week (more popular).
    Everyone signs in and out at reception so we know who was there when.

    We have hand sanitiser everywhere: at the front entrance, by the lifts, by the toilets, kitchen, etc. We have provided "no touch keys" for people using the lift so they don't have to press the buttons, although we have advised everyone to use the stairs if they are able to.

    All teatowels etc have been replaced with paper towels and we are asking people to bring pre-prepared food from home or eat outside the office (i.e. no food prep going on in the kitchen) and to use their own mug and where possible refillable water bottle rather than cups. Max two people in the kitchen at a time (it's a huge room). We have provided Dettol wipes to wipe down shared things (e.g. kettle, microwave buttons, printer buttons)

    AC is an issue - we've been advised not to use it. We are currently running it first thing in the morning to get an airflow and then turning off when people arrive. There is HSE guidance on this - it depends whether your AC system brings in fresh air or just recirculates (the latter is the problem).