Navigating the back to work directive

State governments have started to ease orders requiring employees to work from home. Whilst some employees will be pleased to come back to the office, many will be hesitant to disrupt the new routine they’ve set as home dwellers. The difficulty will be with navigating the complexities of trying to bring people back to the workplace, whilst also maintaining the flexibility and choice afforded during the WFH directive.  

And while it may be a legal, contractual obligation for employees to return to the physical workplace, it may be detrimental to ‘force’ a mass return, especially without considering all the varying factors that impact employees. These factors may include, travel to and from work, at risk employees or family members, childcare and mental health considerations.  

Balancing employee engagement, culture and safety will be what HR departments will grapple with over the next few months. HRM suggests that forcing people back to the office will sour the good will and engagement created during the pandemic; and in extreme circumstances employees may choose their liberties at home, over returning to work.  

Read more on HRM’s guide on the legal and moral considerations of directing employees back to work here or review Henry William Lawyers 2021 – Employment Law Forecast for their views on return to work. 

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