Bringing your team back safely post-lockdown

The furlough scheme now seems to be drawing to its close in September, which means many companies will be looking at gradually bringing furloughed employees back to work. Many of the staff returning to work will have been off for over a year. For some, the idea of returning after such a long period of time may be a little daunting. As an employer, you cannot underestimate the effect that this transition could have on staff. It is therefore vital to evaluate how to effectively transition furloughed staff back to work.

Here are some tips to consider as you start reintegrating your furloughed staff:


Organise a video call a couple of weeks before the employee's planned return to give enough notice for them to prepare themselves mentally. Use this as an opportunity to update the employee of all activity going on in the business, making sure to be open and honest so that you can manage their expectations.

If you haven't already been communicating regularly with furloughed staff, consider introducing a regular update on the business via an accessible platform. Many staff may not have access to desktops or email so consider optimised landing pages that can be viewed by staff on their phone. Whatsapp groups are also a good way for people to keep connected to the business.


Ease them in to prevent them from feeling too overwhelmed. Perhaps bring them back for a couple of days or get them to just work mornings before going back fully to their usual working hours.


If you intend on bringing them back using a phased approach, plan their workload around their reduced hours. Some lower-level tasks may need to take a backseat so they can focus on the main tasks and not become overwhelmed.


Working conditions may have significantly changed over the past 12 months and these need to be communicated to the staff clearly. Re-boarding employees after a long period of leave will ensure they have everything they need to be productive and will set them up for success.

Consider producing bite-size videos that can be viewed easily on their own devices and watched in their own time.


Remember, some employees have been off work for a long period of time and maybe anxious about returning to work. It is important that they know support is there for them if they need it. This could be achieved through regular catch-ups to give them a chance to voice any concerns they may have, or by providing information on how they can access support if they require it.

Consider consolidating all available support resources (NHS, Government website, support organisations, self-help apps, company policies, etc.) in one central and accessible hub so that employees don't need to search themselves.


Many businesses will come out of the pandemic needing to go through a recovery process. Your business recovery plan may require staff to take on a new role within the business, temporarily or permanently. It is essential to provide relevant training to help support your employees. This may be formal training or perhaps you could buddy them up with a member of staff that wasn’t furloughed who can train them on any new procedures.

Why not host some face-to-face training events on your new strategy in a Covid-safe venue?!


For some employees, the thought of returning back to work after an extended leave of absence may cause a strain on their emotional wellbeing. It is important to generate a positive and inclusive working environment as one unified team in order to navigate the transition much easier.

Whilst it is important to be open, honest, and transparent about the state of the business, it's also important not to focus purely on the negatives. Make sure you give equal time to celebrating the positives, however small they may be to start with.


Imago Venues are one of only 1% of IIP accredited companies globally to have achieved the highest accolade of IIP Platinum.