Returning to work after lockdown: 5 tips to help your staff transition back into a workplace environment

Written by Anna Bishop
Jun 30, 2021

Anna is a Training Product Manager at Red Cross Training responsible for the development and review of our training products.

As restrictions ease and the Government’s advice to work from home wherever possible changes, the time will come to welcome your team back to the workplace.

However, lockdown has affected everyone differently and it’s important to address individual needs and remember that while returning to work after lockdown may be a welcome change for some, others may understandably have some anxieties.

For instance, 46% of people who responded to our recent poll felt anxious about lockdown restrictions easing.

That’s why we’ve put together some tips to make the transition easier in a way that cares for your staff’s health and mental wellbeing.


1. Check in on your team

Before welcoming your staff back to the workplace you should check in on your team to see how they’re feeling about returning to work after lockdown, as for many the prospect could be daunting. Let them raise any concerns they might have and help them identify any work priorities. Remember it may take them a while to adjust to being back to work and objectives and goals should reflect this wherever possible.

Try to ensure they have someone to talk to that they can trust – if that’s not you, point them to someone they can like a colleague, occupational health or even a helpline (we have a free coronavirus helpline you can access at any time).

Talking things through can help people feel more control of their feelings. 


2. Risk assessment

In order to return to the workplace after lockdown, employers must consider detailed risk management approaches to safeguard employees' health and minimise the risk of infection, following government and public health guidance. The Health and Safety Executive will be conducting spot checks and has published advice and guidance relating to COVID-19, which may be useful when considering health and safety measures you need to have in place

One part of the risk assessment may be to identify some members of the team who are not ready to return to the workplace.

Don’t forget, although Covid-19 may have introduced new risks to your workplace, other unrelated risks will likely still exist and need to be considered when evaluating your workplace and the provisions you have in place to ensure the safety of your team.


For advice on how to approach difficult conversations, download our free resource: Your guide to starting the conversation

Download now


3. Be flexible

Some staff may be on furlough, while others have been working from home all this time. Whatever their situation, everyone has handled lockdown differently, and some staff members may start to feel anxious or pressured to return to their normal working behaviour.

However, we may not be able to go back to our old ways of working for some time – and if you’re lucky, this could be an opportunity to do things differently, and better. Consider offering flexible hours for your staff. Could there be an opportunity for some members to continue work from home on occasion to ease them in? Is there a need for everyone to be ‘on the road’ or in the office, for example? Communication is key, discuss options with your team and try to find ways of working that compliment both the business and individual moving forward.


4. Mental health training

Investing in mental health training will make a positive difference to your workplace, from creating a better awareness of mental health issues to giving people the skills to recognise the signs of stress in themselves and others.

While there are a multitude of courses out there, the majority will focus on helping staff members return to work after lockdown and maintain a state of positive mental wellbeing. For best results, look out for courses that can be tailored to your organisation’s needs.


5. Regular reviews

It’s important to have regular catch-ups with your team - whether this is in person, on the phone or via video conferencing. This way you can address issues as they come up and start to plan and prepare for the journey after lockdown and beyond covid-19.

Overall, the best way to transition your team back to a more resilient and productive team is to open lines of communication. For more advice on how start those conversations, download our free guide on talking to employees about their mental health.

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Topics: Mental health & wellbeing

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