Large firms have no plans to bring all staff back to offices


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Fifty large organisations have said they have no plans to bring all of their employees back to the office full time, with some giving up their offices completely.

This is according to a survey by the BBC, which found 24 firms did not have plans to bring staff back to the office at all.

One organisation the BBC spoke to had abandoned its premises as its team could not fit into their office space and comply with guidance around social distancing. It also did not want to force employees back onto public transport if they were anxious about contracting Covid-19.

Twenty of the firms questioned said they had plans to bring employees back to the workplace gradually, while 20 had reopened their offices specifically for staff who are unable to work from home. Just three of the 50 polled had brought staff back to the office and had no plans to reopen their offices further.

Separate research by recruitment firm ManpowerGroup highlighted the extent to which employees opposed a full-time return to the office and pre-Covid ways of working. Ninety four per cent were concerned about going back to the workplace and 81% wanted to be able to work remotely post-pandemic.

Graduates and employees in entry-level roles were most keen to return to the workplace (51%), while parents with young children were the least positive about a potential return to work (38%).

Numerous organisations have signalled their intentions to make working from home permanent for the foreseeable future. Banking giant JPMorgan Chase said it would introduce a rotational working model with large proportion of staff able to work from home on a regular basis, while Facebook has said it does not expect employees to return to the office until July 2021 at the earliest.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD said earlier this year: “The pandemic is going to have a long-lasting effect on how we work, with a step change in the proportion of people who work from home on a much more regular basis. This will disrupt some existing patterns of economic activity, for example spending by office workers in town and city centres is likely to drop substantially over the long-term and we will see a further shift to online retail.”

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