News & Insights

7 planning strategies for managers to facilitate return to the workplace

Published 28 January 2021

With the ongoing pandemic and risk of transmission, returning business operations to the workplace calls for extra considerations and an innovative approach to related policies. These suggestions from Gallagher Bassett are intended to help business owners and managers develop an outline for effectively implementing new procedures and enabling employees to adjust to them comfortably.

Follow these key steps to develop your business's return to the workplace plan.

1. Examine the worker protection laws that apply to your business

Revisiting the laws and regulations that require compliance refreshes your awareness and helps form the basis of formulating necessary changes to the ways you do things going forward.

2. Document an infectious disease preparedness and response plan

In terms of managing the ongoing coronavirus risk, first of all consider whether it’s necessary for all your staff to return to the workplace. If people can fulfil their roles and responsibilities effectively working from home then there’s no need to require them to return.

For those coming back to the workplace, think about the possible sources of exposure that involves and the potential effects. Follow federal, state and local authorities’ recommendations for developing contingency plans and infection prevention protocols.


3. Conduct a workplace hazard assessment

In identifying potential infection hazards to your staff, start by assessing the risks in regard to their exposure to other people: the general public, customers and co-workers. Also include non-occupational exposures, such as visited locations outside of work.

Consider whether particular staff members are at increased risk due to personal factors such as medical conditions.

4. Update existing policies for employees

Along with education about new protocols and requirements, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and dealing with deliveries, it’s important to let your staff know about broader changes such as flexible working arrangements and the anticipated effects of disruptions to supply chains. Emphasise the need for social distancing and consider staggering work hours or rearranging the workplace layout to aid facilitation.

To help enable smooth operations while some people continue to work from home some of your staff may be willing to undertake cross training to grow their skills.

Providing directions to where they can access more information is also key to enabling employees to make informed decisions about their comfort level with returning to the workplace.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​5. Enable the use of PPE and adherence anti-infection protocols

With reference to the risk of exposure to your employees, implement necessary protection procedures as advised by relevant authorities.

Discourage the use of shared materials and regularly disinfect personal areas as well as common spaces and frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and light switches.

Encourage frequent hand washing and sanitisation, safe sneezing or coughing and urge employees to stay home if they are feeling unwell.

6. Communicate new safety practices to staff

Providing training will assist with the observation of new protocols and reinforces the adjustments required by physical changes to the workplace and social distancing.

Emphasising your willingness to be flexible about work hours and sick leave to avoid the risk of people coming to work when they’re unwell and possibly infectious. This should also apply to caring responsibilities to family members.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​7. Assign personnel to provide information about the new protocols

In response to changed work conditions your employees will probably have questions about payment schedules, paid time off and sick leave, their concerns about safety and health, and other issues raised by the changes implemented. Appointing designated team members to fulfil the role of your business’s ‘go-to’ source of information provides a clear line of communication between policy makers and staff.

This facilitates a smoother transition and shows that you care about your staff and keeping them apprised of changes that affect their working lives.

For more detail on ensuring a COVID-safe workplace, read our comprehensive guide.

Get advice and expertise to support your business’s transition

The Gallagher Bassett Health and Wellbeing Program is designed to support businesses in taking care of their employees, especially during times of change and uncertainty.

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Gallagher Bassett’s Health and Wellbeing Program

Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective, and offer broad information about risk mitigation, loss control strategy and potential claim exposures. We have prepared this commentary and other news alerts for general information purposes only and the material is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, legal or client-specific risk management advice. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. The information may not include current governmental or insurance developments, is provided without knowledge of the individual recipient’s industry or specific business or coverage circumstances, and in no way reflects or promises to provide insurance coverage outcomes that only insurance carriers’ control.

Gallagher publications may contain links to non-Gallagher websites that are created and controlled by other organisations. We claim no responsibility for the content of any linked website, or any link contained therein. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Gallagher, as we have no responsibility for information referenced in material owned and controlled by other parties. Gallagher strongly encourages you to review any separate terms of use and privacy policies governing use of these third party websites and resources.

Insurance brokerage and related services to be provided by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co (Aus) Limited (ABN 34 005 543 920). Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) No. 238312


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