As scientists continue their research on Omicron, and data is released that reveals the low risk of the new variant, the UK is slowly on the path of returning to normality. This coming week will be when many workers are set to return to the office as the work-from-home guidance has finally been withdrawn.
Chief executive of City Pub Group, Clive Watson, whose firm owns 45 pubs, comments on the effect the work-from-home rule has had on young adults during the pandemic, saying “junior workers needed mentors which they could not get access to while working from home.”
Whilst featuring on the BBC’s Today program, he further discusses how “every junior staff needs a mentor, every junior staff needs to do to someone in the office to help them with their roles and they can't really do that from home.”
Watson claims that returning to the offices is “not just to help the hospitality industry” as he states that many young adults’ mental wellbeing will see an upturn due to “working alongside colleagues.” He adds that returning to the office will also build the “culture” of business.
As some businesses have already begun to reopen their offices, Transport for London has already seen a rise of 6% for tube journeys on Monday compared to the week before, with the number of journeys equating to around 500,000.
This data should still be taken with a grain of salt — we know how unpredictable this pandemic has been, and whilst numbers seem to be going up as offices continue to reopen, there’s still the possibility of change. However, more information will be provided later in the week, and we will be able to make more accurate comparisons in regards to commuting behaviour as offices continue to reopen and people welcome their familiar commute into the city.
The return of workers to not only London but to other cities in the UK will be important for our economy as Covid-19 has cost businesses located in these cities and large town centres more than a third (35% to be exact) of their potential takings, according to a report by Centre for Cities. The report also shows that thousands of businesses have shut down since March 2020 due to economic losses caused by the various lockdowns during the pandemic.
In the midst of the pandemic, it seems that for many, returning to the office had become a dream and nothing close at all to reality. A survey conducted last year by the BBC found that 70% of 1,648 people polled did not believe workers will return to the office full-time.
The boss of the bank Goldman Sachs had called remote working an “aberration”, something that is unusual and unwelcome — which it certainly was for many people.
Alongside deflating morale and bankrupting businesses, Covid-19 had presented itself as another issue in regards to younger workers receiving poor parental leave support. Research from Vodafone suggests that “one-in-five younger workers in the UK have quit their job due to poor parental leave support.”
This shows that there were, and still are, more issues plaguing junior workers than meets the eye. There is hope that returning to offices will provide more stability in what has been an extremely uncertain time for many young workers.
The BBC has recently interviewed some workers who are returning to offices, and some suggest that there are “benefits to the workplace by maintaining workplace etiquette.”
However, some individuals who have jobs in the “recruitment consultant” industry have told the BBC that they have “made more deals at home than [they] ever have in the office.”
Furthermore, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that “more employees reported that home-working boosted productivity”, but only “as the pandemic went on.”
This will result in certain jobs deciding to continue with a work-from-home structure if it has boosted productivity within their workers, whilst others will welcome a return to the office with open arms.
Written by Jade Andrew
Research compiled by Billy Ryan