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Back to the office in two weeks’ time, says PM

Back to the office in two weeks' time, says PM

Office workers

Workers will be able to return to the office after 19 July when Covid restrictions are due to end, Boris Johnson has said.

The government would no longer instruct people to work from home, the prime minister said.

Some firms said they were looking forward to “seeing our great towns and cities fill up again”.

However, human resources body CIPD said the removal of restrictions “shouldn’t signal a mass return to workplaces”.

Many office workers have worked predominantly from home since the first lockdown in March last year. Some employers are eager to bring staff back into the workplace, while others have begun to adapt to hybrid working patterns.

The Centre for Cities think tank said the number of people back in their place of work across the UK’s largest towns and cities was “still just a quarter of what it was pre-pandemic.

Paul Swinney, director of policy and research, said the lack of people working in offices had been a “real challenge” for shops, cafes and pubs who used to depend on office workers for business.

“The change to the ‘back to the office’ advice will doubtless be good news for them, but a question mark remains over how many workers will return now restrictions have lifted,” he said.

The City of London skyline

Many city centre businesses will welcome the return of more commuters

Almost all of 50 of the UK’s biggest employers previously told the BBC they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time.

Some 43 of the firms said they would embrace so-called hybrid working, a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week.

Major city banks are adopting different working approaches. Goldman Sachs has told staff to be ready to return to the workplace in July, while NatWest’s new working model could see just 13% of staff in the office full-time.

‘Give confidence to workers’

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said a return to the office should be “down to individual organisations consulting with their people to agree working arrangements”.

“Freedom Day shouldn’t signal a mass return to workplaces, but it could signal the start of greater freedom and flexibility in how, when and where people work,” he added.

Mr Cheese said regardless of the changes in guidance, employers should continue to put in place measures to “give confidence to workers that their workplace is safe”, such as spacing out desks and implementing one-way systems.

“Businesses shouldn’t rush to simply revert to how they used to work, now we have experience and evidence that it can be done differently,” he said.

“People generally want a mix of workplace and home working. Employers should be trying to understand and support individuals’ preferences over more flexible working arrangements where possible, balanced with meeting the needs of the business.”

Alistair Elliott, a senior partner at Knight Frank, said the estate agent “wholeheartedly” welcomed the lifting of working from home guidance.

“While this was imperative at the beginning of the pandemic, we look forward to seeing our great towns and cities fill up again, bringing all the benefits that the best collaborative workplaces create,” he added.

Richard Burge, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said businesses would welcome being able to increase their capacity or “kickstart their chosen future ways of working plans”.

“For London this is all hugely significant and is a further placing of the ‘open for business’ sign on the front door,” he added.

However, Mr Burge said he wanted to hear “clarity regarding face covering usage” on London’s transport network.

“Confidence in public transport is key to both commuter and visitor return to London,” he said.

About the author


Julia Mangels

Julia has handled various businesses throughout her career and has a deep domain knowledge. She founded Stock Market Pioneer in an attempt to bring the latest news to its readers. She is glued to the stock market most of the times and just loves being in touch with the developments in the business world.

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