Easing of almost all restrictions 'right thing to do' as some employees return to the workplace

Easing of almost all restrictions 'right thing to do' as some employees return to the workplace

Today sees the gradual return of staff to offices, for those who had been working from home for almost two years since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Public health expert says the easing of almost all covid restrictions is "the right thing to do".

Today sees the gradual return of staff to offices, for those who had been working from home for almost two years since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Professor Sam McConkey from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) believes it is fine to reopen as the peak of Omicron has passed.

"It's clear though, that this Omicron wave has peaked and past its worst and the number of cases in hospital or ICU are coming down," he said.

"We're really, at this point, not facing a huge wave, things are hopefully going to improve even with all the easing restrictions.

"It's very hard to justify, you know, the restrictions on meeting and travel or once this imminent threat is gone."

Employers are being advised to consult with staff before planning a return to the workplace.

Trade unions and opposition parties are among those calling for office workers to be given the option to work remotely into the future.

An initial return began last September, however, fresh advice from public health officials in November urged people to work from home again.

Mary Connaughton, director of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), the professional body for HR and development, says employers should consult with staff before planning a return to the office.

She told Newstalk: "It is very sudden and they didn't leave on Friday ready to go back into the workplace.

"They need to step back and see what the workplace layout looks like, some will have had social distancing in place and they may need to amend that, some may want to keep social distancing in place for health and safety.

"They need to consult with employees about the future way forward."

Ms Connaughton is encouraging businesses to engage with their staff to establish their best work practices, remote or hybrid, going forward.

"This is a real opportunity for companies to start to establish their future ways of working and the level of remote and hybrid," she said.

"That needs to happen through a consultation process whereby employees and teams get together and work out what's the best way for them to work together, combining remote working and face-to-face working so that they can deliver on the business."

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