Returning to work after COVID-19

As COVID-19 restrictions start to ease around Australia, companies and organisations will need to prepare to reopen their businesses. But bringing your people back to work is not as simple as flicking a switch. There are considerations through this transition period. 

Each business has its own unique set of challenges – from reimagining hotdesking and meeting spaces, to restarting bricks-and-mortar factories and retail locations. In spite of these challenges, businesses face the same concerns. Where do you begin? How can you protect your people? Is there a right way to move forward?

At PwC, we’ve created some guidelines and considerations to help bring your people back to the workplace.

 

The traditional workplace is behind us. What’s next?

It’s time for business leaders to seize the moment, and consider how they want to evolve their workplace to be fit for the future.

 

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Post-COVID-19 considerations for returning to workplaces

Workspaces, facilities and technology

The work environment post-COVID-19 will not be the same as the one you left. Factors include:

  • Ensuring safe distancing between employees and visitors.
  • Safely managing the flow of people in and out of the workplace.
  • Planning for collaboration spaces, meeting rooms and hot desking, and the technology to support.
  • Do you need to reopen facilities all at once or can you develop a staged approach?
Effective communication

Leading with clear messaging is important in the transition to new ways of working post-COVID-19. 

  • Be empathetic - what is it that people need to know? Consider employee safety, mental and physical wellbeing, and how you’ll manage staff engagement and productivity. 
  • Choose the right messaging for your employees – both those returning to the office and the ones who’ll remain working from home.  
  • What will you communicate with customers, suppliers and investors?
Health and safety

How will you ensure the health and safety of your people? Things to consider include:

  • Monitoring and maintaining proper social distancing guidelines.
  • Establishing stringent cleaning and sanitation protocols for desks, meeting rooms, bathrooms, end-of-trip facilities and shared kitchen spaces.
  • Ensuring your staff are provided with the facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE) to maintain personal hygiene, such as face masks, gloves, alcohol wipes, handwashing stations and hand sanitisers.  
  • Having a risk management process that factors in contact tracing, travel policy reviews and tracking of employee compliance with health regulations. 
  • Having a contingency plan should there be another spike in COVID-19 cases.
A new operating rhythm

What’s your plan to meet evolving demands at work after COVID-19? 

  • Which employees are essential by role, location and demand?
  • Can some staff continue to work effectively from home? 
  • To minimise infection risk, should you consider parallel scheduling or shift work to separate teams?
Mental health and wellbeing

Understanding the new situations your people face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic should be taken just as seriously as business-related considerations. These include:

  • Stress and anxiety for people who may not yet feel comfortable or safe returning to work.
  • Alternative transport methods for staff who rely on public transport.
  • Reviewing expectations around productivity as a result of frequent cleaning of workspaces, hand-washing breaks and other safety protocols.
  • Ways to further support remote working for those who need it.
Find out more about returning to the workplace post-COVID-19
Post-COVID-19 response: return to workplace considerations
Return to workplace checklist

 

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Contact us

Peter Wheeler

Partner, People & Organisation Consulting, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (3) 8603 6504

Rick Crethar

Australian Global Crisis Centre Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 7809

Amy Plowman

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 408 330 943

Tom Bowden

Partner, Government and Public Sector, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 6271 3229

Norah Seddon

People & Organisation Tax Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 5864

Corinne Best

Trust and Risk Business Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (2) 8266 4525

Christie Rall

Director, People & Organisation Consulting, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (3) 8603 2260

Rebecca Smith

Partner, The Difference, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 426 815 524

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