All You Need To Know About Being Back In The Office

Covid-19 has brought about forced change to all working environments and remote working and hybrid working patterns are becoming the new norm for offices around the world.  The thought of being back in the office and being in the same room as other people can be daunting for both employees and employers alike and in order to make the transition as easy as possible it’s vital that safety measures are taken to make returning to work as safe as possible. Many workers have spent a lot of  time working remotely which makes it difficult to separate work life from home life due to the pandemic and many may be anxious about returning to work. In this blog, we will be discussing the safety measures needed to ensure for a safe return to work for office employees.

Being Back In The Office

The thought of being back in the office may be worrying to many. After over a year of work from home there will be a mixture of feelings towards the change and you’ll need to make sure your employees feel as comfortable and confident as possible about being back in the office. Some may be excited and eagerly awaiting the day, whereas others may be nervous and dread the thought of being back working in an office full of people. 

Safety needs to be at the forefront of any changes that need to be made in preparation for workers being back in the office. Employers should be taking tentative steps when it comes to staff being back in the office, and safety should be at the forefront of any changes made. It’s important that employees are involved in the discussions surrounding any measures being put in place and establish a clear line of communication, for employees to raise any concerns. Opening a form of dialogue from employer to employees encourages people to have those productive discussions which will certainly help any return to work.

What May Have Changed?

Since being out of the office a lot will have changed. From new staff, new working habits, to an entirely new office layout… all of which will need to be considered on the return to work. They say a new habit is built in 21 days, and after nearly two years of building and adapting new habits in response to the Covid-19 pandemic rest assured employees will have adapted some new habits. This will need to be considered by managers and there will need to be a level of flexibility when it comes to the office opening. 

Why Do We Need To Maintain Social Distancing At Work?

After nearly two years of employees working from home offices, kitchen tables, and sofas, the return to work can seem overwhelming for many. Social distancing will continue to be an essential part of any many businesses’ return to the workplace and measures will need to be implemented throughout any office. It’s more important than ever to make staff feel as safe and comfortable as possible on their return to the office.  A safe working environment will require full cooperation from everyone, and there should be an open line of communication to ensure everyone understands why and how to follow the social distancing measures put in place. Relevant health and safety procedures have always been a legal requirement in the workplace however in post-covid times more than ever, we all have a duty to keep employees and visitors safe in the work place.

Every business has a different capacity and different sized premises to work with. So whether you’re a small business looking to make some small changes to your existing office in order to follow COVID-19 workplace regulations, or a large business wanting to completely reinvent and redesign your existing workspace, Office Options are here to help! We’ve had a look at some of the changes businesses can take to help make their offices a safe place for staff to return to work by adhering to social distancing and maintaining other health and safety procedures.

How Can You Ensure That You Social Distance When At Work?

Keep Two Meters Apart

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the government has consistently advised people to keep socially distanced whenever possible, so it’s essential that staff remain two metres apart if they are able to. Moving around or changing current desking and seating arrangements will also help staff to keep a safe distance by maintaining physical distancing in and around the office. If you had hot desking policies previously, these should be one of the first things to change. Sitting at the same allocated workspace everyday will cut down on the number of people employees are in prolonged contact with each day, helping to reduce the risk of spreading. Where possible, bench desking should be replaced by individual desks as this allows employees to physically separate their workspaces, allowing them to physically distancing and continue working safely.

Have An Office Layout That Allows For Social Distancing

Introducing screens can help to break up existing work spaces, providing privacy for staff to work whilst remaining a safe distance from others working around them and avoiding close contact with others. Office Options offer a range of screens from on-desk screens to floor screens that can help to divide up working areas. They can be used to transform places that weren’t originally used as workspaces into functional and safe spaces. On the return to the office you’ll need to review the current workspace layouts and processes and consider rearranging or adapting them to allow staff to abide by social distancing rules. Use signage and floor markings to remind employees to keep a safe distance from each other and continue to follow the relevant health and safety procedures. Distribute other safety signs and information through the workplace, for example to remind employees to wash their hands and to keep a safe distance. Office Options offer space planning and project management for offices, we can work with you to help realise your goals. In offices or workspaces where this might not be possible, for example if your workplace is limited for space so you’re unable to fit everyone in safely, it’s wise to consider working at a reduced capacity in the office, with those who can, working from home.

Maintain Elements Of Social Distancing

We offer a range of innovate bench and desk furniture that can help you maintain elements of social distancing in the workplace. Seating arrangements may need to change in order to allow staff to work efficiently whilst remaining socially distanced, and  depending on office size this could mean the office capacity will need to be reduced. Rearranging seating and the positioning of desks along with introducing screens and sanitising stations will help to maintain social distancing and encourage employees to regularly sanitise their hands. 

Reduce Office Capacity

The less people in the office, the safer it is! Consider splitting the team up and implementing a rota system, allowing one team to come in one week and the other the next and so on. This will help minimise the number of staff in the office at one time and therefore help to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Figuring out who the ‘essential’ office staff are will help you figure out the capacity you’re working with. Some members of staff may not feel comfortable coming into the office and are able to continue to get their work done from home, whereas others may be eager to get back into the office and are struggling to work remotely. Working at a reduced capacity will allow for workspaces to be spread out and maintain a safer working environment.

Limit Social Areas

It’s not just the workspaces that will need to adapt to follow the social distancing rules, social and communal areas, such as break rooms, toilets, kitchens, and lifts will also need to be considered. Limiting the number of people allowed in communal areas at once, will help to avoid overcrowding and keep staff safe. Put a limit on the number of people that are allowed in social spaces, for example the kitchen and staff break rooms. It may be beneficial to introduce new spaces that can be utilised as social spaces to help disperse staff, for example meeting rooms that aren’t in use. These areas should be highly ventilated and the use of outdoor areas during lunch and breaks should be encouraged to help implement social distancing at work.

You may need to re-think the layout of these areas to help implement social distancing measures and make them as safe as possible. Office Options offer canteen and break-out area fitouts and our team can work with you to understand and achieve your end goals and make the space safer and more functional. 

Have Different Start / Finishing Times

Staggered start and finish times can help to avoid a flurry of people entering and exiting the office all at the same time. Having different timings for different teams of people will help to avoid crowding at entry points and ensure a  safer working environment. By opening more exits and entrances to the building, and using markings throughout, it will work to implement a traffic flow system to help staff remain socially distanced as they move around and avoid large gatherings of people at the start and end of each day. It would also be beneficial to ensure that there is enough storage for employees to store their belongings, and to store all PPE equipment and keep the office as clean and tidy as possible.

How Else Can You Ensure The Safety Of All Employees?

There are a number of measures outside of social distancing you can put in place to help ensure the safety of your employees. From hand washing through the use of signage, to redesigning and adjusting your office space to make it as safe as possible. Guidelines will need to be put in place, and all employees should be aware of these and understand the reasoning behind them.

Office Options have developed a ‘Back to Work’ package to help employers navigate themselves through these challenging times. Our packages include:

  • Sanitiser Stands/Dispensers
  • Antiseptic Divider Screens
  • Segregation and Signage 
  • Fogging and Disinfecting 

Avoid Physical Contact

The biggest way to help ensure the safety of your employees is to, wherever possible, avoid any physical contact. Therefore work spaces should be planned and designed to allow employees at work to social distance at all times. High traffic areas such as kitchens, hallways and lifts will need to be given special consideration as social distancing may be harder in these areas. Additionally it may be wise to continue to carry our virtual meetings to avoid numerous employees being in close proximity in a meeting room. 

Adapting your office or workplace to allow staff to avoid unnecessary physical contact may involve implementing one way systems and staggered start times. This will help to reduce the need for any physical contact and limit the amount of people in the office at one time, helping to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Ensure Access To Necessary Equipment

Employers will need to ensure that all staff have access to any equipment they need to perform their job to the best of their ability. A change of office layout shouldn’t mean compromising on the equipment available to staff. By providing staff with a selection of useful furniture accessories it can help to encourage a ‘work tidy, work smart’ atmosphere. Office Options offer a range of accessories including cable trays, CPU holders and laptop stands, which will help to make employees’ workspaces as tidy and efficient as possible. 

How Can Office Options help?

Here at Office Options we can offer a range of services to help your business with staff returning to the office. Whether you simply need some extra desking and seating, or a full office fit out our team are on hand to help! If you’re interested in finding out more about how Office Options can help you prepare for the employees being back in the office then contact the team today on 0800 342 3179, or send an email across to

To discuss your project with our team today, give us a call on 0800 342 3179 and email us at