The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed that the Scottish Government will encourage employers to consider hybrid working, and that a phased return to office working should commence from Monday 31st January 2022.
Ms Sturgeon warned that a “wholesale return to the office” could be counterproductive in tackling the Omicron surge of Covid-19.
The new guidance replaces that in which the recommendation was home working whenever practical, to encouraging employers to implement hybrid working while following appropriate guidance, with workers spending some time in the office and some time at home. Ms Sturgeon went on to state that there are many benefits to both employees and employers, and to the economy as a whole, in at least a partial return to the office at this stage.
Therefore, from Monday onwards many employers will have been thinking about and planning a return to working in the office, therefore we set out below some considerations to be taken into account when planning this return.
Work stations and equipment
Employers remain responsible for providing appropriate equipment to employees. Therefore, consideration must be given to what systems need to be accessed, by whom and if they still require to be accessed remotely. Employers will have to consider whether IT support is required for those working in the office and at home.
Employers must ensure that they have clear and regular communication with their employees, especially when a large part of the workforce will still be working from home during the hybrid return.
Businesses should also ensure that they continue to update all staff members on business or workplace developments, and encourage their employees to maintain communication while working from home as well as in the office.
Working hours must be clearly agreed with all employees, and any flexible working requests received must be dealt with in line with legislation and the need of the business.
When more employees are returning to the office, it may be required to carry out further risk assessments, particularly if this is required for any new members of staff that have started during a period of home working.
Employers should consider any ways in which the physical environment in the office can be adapted to ensure that all employees feel comfortable returning to their place of work. This could include the usage of marking / signage, one way systems and limits on the numbers of employees in recreational / break areas, and the number of visitors in the office at any one time.
Should you require any advice in relation to planning a return to the office, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors today.