The reality of returning

to office life revealed

At no point in my career did I think I would be having serious conversations about whether or not we can keep the biscuit tin and whether we really have to consider swapping fruit for facemasks … But that’s the reality of planning a return to the office.

In the last few weeks, we’ve been carrying out risk assessments, trawling through health and safety guidelines, pricing up very expensive floor stickers and starting to understand what the rest of 2020 will look like.

Through my slightly “safety” yellow-tinted glasses here’s a glimpse at what this MD has been doing.

Careful caffeine planning

For the past 55 years, CWA has had a rich tradition of tea rounds. From studio to admin, they are a robust and trusted part of our social fabric. COVID means we are now considering whether we will need to change that.

Getting a caffeine fix could be a one-man show going forward. We will be waving goodbye to the group tea round, as it is set to be more of an “every man and woman for themselves” world.

In a kitchen now converted into an effective one-way, one-in-one-out system – cue another squirt of hand sanitiser – we’re assessing everything from fingers in the tea and coffee tins to staff bringing their own knives and forks for lunches.

This is all good stuff, but am I now going to consider investing in a thermos flask and refrigerated lunch bag?

Water cooler conversations will be no more

Social distancing and one-way systems are set to replace the friendly chat around the water cooler. But on the bright side, it’s the perfect location for another hand sanitiser station!

Goodbye biscuit tin

Employee wellbeing is, of course, right up there on the list. Our fruit and biscuits have helped to fuel the team since before my time at CWA. But as part of the return to work strategy, we are even “risk assessing” the fruit and the fruit bowl.

Could we be on the cusp of an enforced biscuit detox? One of the better things to come out of the safety plan, perhaps?

Homeworking does have its perks

At CWA, our services and global client base very often mean that many of the team are travelling. While our international travel has been curbed, homeworking is a familiar story for all businesses now.

Like millions of others, we have embraced Zoom and Teams to keep projects and client contact flowing. Working from home has been a smooth transition for CWA and it does have its perks, a window by the desk for instance, or a short journey to tasty snacks in the fridge!

Coming out of lockdown and how much we will continue to work from home will be a serious consideration going forward and one which I am pondering.

The creative hub we have created here at our Glenfield office is an open plan space, perfect for collaboration and sharing ideas and I am passionate that continuing this way of working is the key to our success.

We have adapted well to working smarter together online but the way we collaborate together in our safe office space is still vital to our creativity and culture.

Social distancing, one-way systems, one person zones, increased cleaning procedures and hand sanitising stations are all in the mix, but getting the team back together, working and creating together is what we are aiming for.

So, bring on the H&S, risk assessments and directional arrows, our new normal is on the horizon and it’s based right here in Glenfield.

My recommendation to other businesses going through the same thing?
  • Don’t underestimate how much time and planning is involved in the return-to-work process. Start sooner rather than later.
  • Ask for feedback and ideas from the team.
  • Tell people what they can expect and what is expected of them as soon as you have a plan in place so they can process the changes before they return.
  • Don’t dismiss the importance of working together in a collaborative, in the flesh, face to face way (with 2 meters distance of course).
  • Embrace the changes you have to make as this after all is one of the important steps towards a new normal.

I’d love to hear your experience of returning to work, how you have adapted to new ways of working or shedding old ways of working? Get in touch today at

cwa meet the team about us nicola gif
Written by
Nicola Adams
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