Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): returning to offices

To help employers plan for a gradual return to offices when the country moves beyond Level 0 of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): returning to offices


The phasing below is based on the work led by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the COVID-19 protection levels.

The direction and speed of phasing will be dictated by the data and continued progress in suppressing the virus.




Beyond Level 0

A gradual return to offices but working from home will continue to be encouraged, where possible and in line with business practices
As we moved to beyond level 0 - on 9 August 2021
  • this phase is currently live where only essential offices are open. Remaining offices are currently closed and staff have all been working from home since March 2020
  • employers have been engaging with employees to conduct surveys and have been providing employee support
  • employers have been undertaking COVID-19 risk assessments and revising existing health and safety workplace risk assessments in preparation for eventual re-opening
  • employers have revised working from home policies and procedures
  • employers to revisit workplace travel plans ahead of reopening, taking into account any limitations on public transport provision/capacity that has occurred since the beginning of the pandemic
  • employers are encouraged to use the COVID-19 compliance self-assessment tool to assess compliance with COVID-19 regulations and guidance within their workplace in preparation for a reopening of offices
  • employers to work closely with employees to agree arrangements to return to offices focussing on staff who would benefit most from return.
  • employees and employers to use the Individual Occupational Risk Assessment guidance and consult relevant guidance on protecting higher risk groups (links below)

Beyond Level 0

A gradual return to offices but working from home will continue to encouraged, where possible and in line with business practices

As we move to beyond level 0 - expected on 9 August 2021, subject to the gateway condition being met

  • remaining offices can begin to re-open taking account of precautionary measures (further guidance is available)
  • almost all COVID restrictions will be removed as set out in the update of the Strategic Framework but a number of precautionary measureswill be retained, covered either by regulations or guidanceIn practice, this will mean that employers should continue to maintain measures such as: ensuring there is good ventilation, maintaining good hand and respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, wearing face coverings unless exemptions apply, continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary and reflecting outbreak management in workplace plans to manage/mitigate outbreaks in the workplace - further guidance has been published.
  • consideration of some working at home is still encouraged, in line with business discussions on the needs and desires of the business and their employees
  • continue to monitor safer workplaces guidance (links below) and regularly review workplace plans and policies to reflect changes to guidance

First published: 2 Jul 2021 Last updated: 13 Aug 2021 -