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As the business world learns to adapt with working from home and adhering to government health advice, some focus is shifting to returning to offices. But when and how should an organisation prepare their workforce and office space for a return?

Organisations have a duty to first and foremost protect the health and wellbeing of their people, as well as clients and other visitors to their offices. To ensure that an orderly, efficient process is in place and ready for implementation it is encouraged to start forming return to work plans in advance of indications that the Government may begin easing or lifting restrictions.

In our ‘COVID-19: Return to the office’ document we set out the guiding principles, assumptions and Government actions surrounding organisations’ return to office life. The document also explores four key mitigation measures that organisations should consider implementing once they have determined that a return to the office is necessary for all or party of your workforce:

  1. Access Controls (Screening) for Personnel, Visitors and Vendors
  2. Physical Distancing (also known as social distancing)
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  4. Office Cleaning and Hygiene

Although COVID-19 is a global pandemic, it is unlikely that one global ‘panacea’ approach to the easing of lockdowns will materialise. The scope of the return plan, and the actions required, will differ according to applicable law. It is therefore important that each organisation is familiar with the applicable laws, regulations and policies that apply to the health and safety of their people, including visitors to their premises, and the unique threat posed by COVID-19, before implementing measures that attempt to mitigate the risk of people being infected with COVID-19, and contribute to providing a safe and healthy environment in the office. 

Note: This document contains a number of considerations and is intended for reference. National government, HSE, WHO and other public health body advice should always be considered first.

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