The return to work, extended furlough and the effects on mental health

As businesses work towards reopening in part or full, and advice from the government continues to change as in the Chancellor announcing the extension of the furlough scheme, employers must plan for any return to the workplace in a way that cares for their people and safeguards their health and wellbeing.

Business owners and directors, employees, staff and contractors have all felt the impact of the lockdown in one way or another, and even though the government has now outlined its ‘roadmap’ to begin easing lockdown in England, this is still subject to review and it is essential to keep up to date with any further changes during the process.

If you are planning for employees to return to the office, at the heart of that plan should be a commitment to support flexible and remote working where possible, and the provision of support for physical and mental health for workers who cannot work from home and may be concerned about being in the workplace or travelling there.

With so much disruption from the pandemic, people’s expectations around work, how they fulfil their role, and how they reconcile work and domestic responsibilities may have changed dramatically.

This is an ideal time for employers to think more creatively about effective ways of working, and harness more agile and flexible working practices to meet individuals’ changing expectations. A flexible approach could help employers develop more effective people management practices, resulting in improved productivity.

The extension to the furlough system will undoubtedly support people and businesses as they navigate the return to the office, there’s now light at the end of the tunnel with a roadmap for reopening, but we do still have some challenging months ahead.

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