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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.


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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


Contact us

Peter Wheeler

Partner, People & Organisation Consulting, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (3) 8603 6504

Rick Crethar

Chief Risk Officer and Cyber & Digital Trust 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

Australia and Asia Pacific 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

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