Government cools messaging on return to work saying it should happen ‘gradually’

·2-min read
Coronavirus (PA Wire)
Coronavirus (PA Wire)

The Government has cooled its rhetoric on the end of home working as Health Secretary Sajid Javid said employees should “gradually” head back to offices.

He told MPs: “Everyone should return to work gradually if they are working from home.”

His comments come after scientists warned that a rush back into offices could lead to a rise in infections.

Coronavirus – Tue May 12, 2020 (PA Archive)
Coronavirus – Tue May 12, 2020 (PA Archive)

Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said prior to the statement: “Over the next four to six weeks that needs to be very cautiously implemented by businesses to keep transmission down.

She added: “If you are able to do your business effectively from home then … we should try our best to do that.”

A gulf has opened up over the debate of returning to offices, with officials keen to see city centres thrive.

But several employers, including public sector organisations, have introduced flexible working arrangements.

The Bank of England recently said staff would only need to work in the office one day a week and not until September.

Businesses including retailers John Lewis, Asda; banks including Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC banks, as well as call centre operator Capita and British Gas owner Centrica, have all introduced hybrid working policies.

Mobile phone network giffgaff also revealed it too would opt for hybrid working at its head office in Uxbridge for its nearly 200 staff.

The Chancellor recently said that younger workers were keen to return to the office whilst senior leaders have said they believe creativity is lost without face-to-face meetings.

But a recent survey by consultancy firm Advanced Workplace Associates found that young workers want as much flexibility to work at home as older workers.

Managing director Andrew Mawson said: “From our own data, we know that that Under 29s want broadly the same flexibility as the rest of the working population, but they have a greater sociability need, which of course they satisfy by being with the peers and socialising after work.

“However this doesn’t need to be five days a week, most people want to work two or three days a week.

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