With many countries slowly lifting some of the corona measures, organisations are starting to prepare for a return to the office.

Ensuring the safety of your employees while taking into account the government regulations for social distancing, requires a carefully planned out set of measures for your office. Here's a checklist and a best practice return plan to help prepare your organisation for a safe return. 

Best practice return plan

A clear and transparent plan for returning to the office is vital to ensure employees are confident that their employer is treating their health and safety with the utmost importance. The below plan can be used as a guide in letting your employees return to the office in five phases. This plan uses the model of a full return to the office, using voluntary returnees as a starting point. Depending on the current health situation in your country, your organisation can start the plan in the phase that is most applicable.

Phase 1: Opening up offices

Offices are prepared to be compliant with all Covid-19 restrictions. Employees can volunteer to return part-time. Returnees can book office days with their HR department, to ensure office occupancy stays below 25%. Permission is granted on a first come, first served basis. People using public transportation for their commute can continue to work from home.

Phase 2: Rotational teams

Once government restrictions are eased and office occupancy can be increased, employees can be split up into rotational teams that come to the office on different days. Everyone is still free to continue to work from home, but employees are expected to inform their manager and HR department of their desire to do so. Office occupancy is kept under 50%.

Phase 3: Flexible hours

Flexible working hours are implemented to ensure travel is safe for employees commuting on public transport, allowing office access to all employees at some point during this phase. Office occupancy in phase 3 remains below 50%.

Phase 4: Increased office occupancy

Employees are encouraged to return to the office a fixed number of days per week. Employees with health concerns are allowed to stay at home and strict policies are in place for employees with symptoms of the virus. Occupancy increases to 75%.

Phase 5: Full return to the office

All staff are encouraged to return to the office. However, greater flexibility to work from home on an ad hoc basis stays in place, governed by comprehensive guidelines. Occupancy increases to 90%.


You can use this checklist to lay the groundwork for a successful return to the workplace. Checking the items on this list can help you get organised and anticipate obstacles. 


  • Masks and disposable gloves for employees that cannot keep 1,5 meters distance
  • Temperature checks at the entrance
  • Hand sanitiser stations
  • Disposable cups

Common spaces:

  • One-way corridors to minimise people crossing each other
  • Directional floor markings
  • Single-occupancy restrooms
  • Elevator occupancy policies
  • Plexiglass walls between desks
  • Empty spaces between desks
  • Closing on-site cafeterias and other shared spaces

Schedules and restrictions:

  • Staggered work shifts to lower office occupancy
  • Adapting working hours to avoid people commuting during peak hours
  • Prohibiting access to external visitors
  • A clear policy for employees with symptoms
  • Reviewed travel policies


  • Regular and clearly documented deep cleaning procedures
  • Clean desk policy


More information

For more information or personal advice on flexible working and the future of the workplace, please contact one of our offices.

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