A guide to successfully bring staff back from furlough

Hearing about the coronavirus way back in January, who would have thought it would have led to announcing companies having to furlough staff temporarily? No company wants to do such a thing; however, it is important for companies to survive and come out fighting. It has been a challenging time for employees and employers.

It is still unknown for those who have been furloughed when they will return to work.

At such an uncertain time, it is sensible for businesses to consider their steps and have measurements in place over this prolonged period. When the lockdown restrictions lift, it should not be about getting staff straight back into the office.

Returning to the workplace

If social distancing measures cannot be complied with at work, those staff that can work from home should expect to carry on for some time. Consider the risk of bringing everyone back, the approach should be slow and steady. Make your staff aware that you are taking it seriously and have certain procedures put in place to minimise the risk of infection.


The government have specific actions for businesses to take based on these steps

  • Carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment – Before opening up the office carry out a risk assessment with the HSE guidance.
  • Have procedures in place for cleaning, handwashing, and hygiene – Encourage staff to take breaks. Provide hand sanitiser around the workplace.
  • Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible – Avoid sharing workstations, the arrangement of the desks will need a new structure to follow the 2m distance. Floor tape could be used to mark areas to help people keep to 2m distance and create a one-way traffic around the workplace


Different protocols may be initiated to bring back employees who were furloughed and those that have been working from home.


  • Offer flexible working arrangements. As an employer, you need to have an understanding of the employees who are returning to work after an extended period off. This will come as a shock. By allowing flexibility, their transition back into work will be made a lot easier.
  • As an employer, you should look into your company culture, look for opportunities to reinforce and reintegrate employees back to their team. For example, team building exercises over a video call.
  • Training should be initiated for those that have been out of work. Having a certain level of briefing on what their job is will benefit both the employer and the employee.


Communication is key, you need to reassure your staff and make it clear what is expected of them. The focus is to make sure that the organisation takes care of their employees and their health and wellbeing.


  • If they are feeling unwell making sure you know this information
  • Some of your staff may be required to isolate for a longer period of time due to a vulnerability of the risk of COVID-19 infection.
  • Reassurance to those that are currently on furlough you do not want staff to feel neglected after all as an employee you need make sure your staffs health and wellbeing is ok.


Making sure you are speaking to everyone in the workplace on their notice to return to work. You cannot expect staff to return to work the following day because the company sees fit to do so.

This is a hard time for everyone and whether it be good news or bad news its important to communicate with your furlough staff. It allows the staff to feel valued and supported by their employers. Due to this pandemic having a different impact across the whole of the world consider having a thought to everyone’s individual circumstances. As an employer knowing how each and every one of your staff are doing and coping will allow a better decision in these next few months and what is deemed fit for your business. Who knows working from home is something that your employer may consider in the future?


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Chris Bongard

June 3rd, 2020 View my profile

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