Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Government to allow employers to advise on back to work guidance: Comment from Personio on the lessons learnt from Germany

By Martina Ruiss, Head of HR at Personio

“Although in Germany businesses have been able to transition into the ‘new normal’ before the UK, this developed in a similar way to what we’re now seeing in the UK. As lockdown eased, employers were given responsibility to follow new health and safety guidance and were allowed to invite workers back into offices.

“In our Munich office, for instance, we were able to start our safe return to the office in June with a two-week trial in which a small number of employees returned on a voluntary basis. Our HR team played a vital role in making this happen as smoothly as possible, and since then have developed rules and measures for working in the office from lessons learnt during the trial. The team also had honest discussions with employees to find out peoples’ preferences when it came to working from home versus returning to the office. While many people were eager to come back, naturally others were still more cautious – and we stood by those wishes.

Now that many UK employers seriously consider how they will approach the return to the office, it is crucial that they ensure the process is a collaborative one. After so many months of fear and uncertainty, it’s important to reassure employees that you are putting their safety first at all times. Of course it will take time for businesses to settle in and adjust to the ‘new normal’, but it is important that managers and leaders listen to their colleagues before putting a strategy in place.”