Campaign seeks to get workers back in the office
By Rob Freeman | 28th August 2020
The Government is to launch a campaign to get people back to their workplaces to coincide with the return to school next week.
Adverts will appear in newspapers advising employers on making offices COVID-secure as it aims to encourage people to feel safe to return.
The drive follows warnings of the damage being done to city and town centre businesses by the lack of office workers providing their normal custom - sandwich chain Pret A Manger having announcing 3,000 jobs are to go after a collapse in sales.
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the CBI, said city centres risked becoming "ghost towns" if workers do not return to the office.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: "What we're saying to people is it is now safe to go back to work and your employer should have made arrangements which are appropriate to make sure that it is coronavirus-safe to work and you will see some changes if you haven't been in for a bit as a result.
"The vast majority of employers just want to get their businesses back up and running, they want to do the right thing, and many will have found that actually home working can work for some of their employees."
He continued: "I think there's a limit, just in human terms, to remote working. And there are things where you just need to spark off each other and get together in order to make progress.
"I think common sense will prevail between employers and employees."
Whitehall sources have denied reports that anyone who continues to work from home will be at greater risk of losing their job.
But Labour's shadow business minister Lucy Powell insisted nobody should have to choose "between their health and their job".
According to the Office for National Statistics, 39 per cent of the workforce was working remotely in the two weeks up to August 9, although that figures rises above 70 per cent in education and communication.
A study for the BBC said 50 major employers had no plans to return to the office full-time in the near future.
A survey of customers by Lister Communications from Stonehouse said 41 per cent anticipate no changes to the way they are working while 30 per cent are planning to gradually bring all workers back to the office with 30 per cent introducing a mix of office and home work.
While 22 per cent plan to retain some home working for the foreseeable future, five per cent are looking to change some roles to permanently work from home while just three per cent plan to close their office in favour of home working.
Managing director Rob Lister said: "We quickly went to the majority of our staff working from home and at this stage we have no reason to think we are going to change that."
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