The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Government Begins Campaign To Encourage Returning to the Office

Government Begins Campaign To Encourage Returning to the Office
01 September 2020 | Updated 08 September 2020
 

The Transport Minister has told a London radio station that: “Our central message is pretty straightforward: we are saying to people it is now safe to return to work.”

Grant Shapps, in an interview with LBC radio, revealed that the government will be embarking on a campaign to encourage people to return to their workplaces and that it is now safe to do so.

This news comes as Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), commented that getting employees back to their workplaces is as important as pupils returning to school.

It has since been reported by The Telegraph that the campaign will be postponed by at least a week, amid rumours of disagreement on campaign messaging and the recent rise in R rate.

 

Average Weekday City Footfall Still Not Increasing

 

The “back to work” campaign will be promoted through regional media, according to reports from the BBC.

It is thought that employers will be supported with methods of reassurance for their staff, by promoting their COVID-secure measures.

The government have been gradually working to convince the workforce to start returning to their workplaces since announcing in July that employers were to be given more discretion on how they organise their workforce. 

However, according to data from Centre for Cities, the average weekday city centre footfall has shown no change at since early July. In central London and Manchester, early August weekday footfall rose by just one percentage point compared to early July.

The proposed strategy seems at odds with reports this week that fifty of the biggest UK employers have no plans to return all staff to the office full-time in the near future.

 

"The Genie is out of the Bottle Boris. There is no Point in Trying to Put it Back.”

 

Andrew Mawson, Managing Director of Advanced Workplace Associates feels that this new strategy only perpetuates the myth that if you are not in the office, you are not working:

"Boris Johnson’s threat to home workers that if they don’t return to the office they run the risk of being fired flies right in the face of the modernisation of UK working practices and is an insult to all those dedicated workers that have been working long and hard at home to keep this country moving over the last five months.

“From the many studies published, there is a proven appetite from many office workers for greater flexibility in both place and time of work, indeed many employers have come out and told employees that they have a right to work from home forever should they so wish. 

 

“Many people have discovered a new way of working that gives them more time, lower costs and an ability to mix work with life. Why would they want to go back to the ‘get up early, crowded train, exhaustion’ that the pre-COVID commuting workstyles gave rise to, when they and their employers are more than happy to have them working from home?"

–Andrew Mawson

Managing Director, Advanced Workplace Associates

“Many people have discovered a new way of working that gives them more time, lower costs and an ability to mix work with life. Why would they want to go back to the ‘get up early, crowded train, exhaustion’ that the pre-COVID commuting workstyles gave rise to, when they and their employers are more than happy to have them working from home?

“Whilst there is clearly an impact the City Centre economies, the high street was on its knees before the pandemic - the virus has simply accelerated its demise. And although there are implications for the property industry and high street chains, people are spending more money in their local economies. This change actually plays to the government’s ‘levelling up’ strategy to support the regions. The genie is out of the bottle Boris. There is no point in trying to put it back.”

 

"People Want to Return"

 

Niki Fuchs, Managing Director at Office Space in Town, a UK serviced office provider welcomes the campaign:

"We welcome the government's renewed commitment to encouraging people back to the office. We've already seen the economic impact of empty offices, creating 'ghost towns' in cities, and, importantly, the negative effect that working remotely has had on productivity and staff wellbeing. So, while the future office has been a source of much speculation, there is growing indications that people want to return. In fact, in our recent survey, we found that 95 per cent of people want a physical office to return to.

"We welcome the government's renewed commitment to encouraging people back to the office. We've already seen the economic impact of empty offices, creating 'ghost towns' in cities, and, importantly, the negative effect that working remotely has had on productivity and staff wellbeing."

–Niki Fuchs

Managing Director, Office Space in Town

"Of course, there are barriers to returning to work that cannot be solved simply by the government encouraging businesses to return to the office. Instead, simple measures are needed that can go a long way in restoring employee's confidence. For example, implementing one-way systems, improving office signage, introducing additional cleaning provisions, and talking about these measures can reassure staff as they return to work.

"Another hurdle to consider is that surrounding public transport. Certainly, business owners cannot control the cleanliness of buses and trains, but they can improve the accessibility of personal modes of transport. For example, they can increase their provision of bike racks and showers, thereby improving employee choice and comfort." 

Picture: A photograph of a person in businesswear walking down a city street, using their mobile phone

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 01 September 2020

Share



Related Articles

Construction And Manufacturing Sectors Encouraged Back To Work By PM

In his address to the nation last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed a “conditional plan” to reopen society and encourage certain groups back to...

 Read Full Article
Facilities Managers Should Introduce “Stricter” COVID Measures

With COVID-secure guidelines set to become a legal obligation, Bureau Veritas has advised that facilities managers must step up with a more robust and formalised...

 Read Full Article
PM Tightens Restrictions and Re-Prioritises Working From Home

In an address to MPs today, Boris Johnson has tightened COVID-19 restrictions in England, calling on people to work from home where possible and pausing plans for...

 Read Full Article
New Grants Available for Businesses Affected By Local Lockdowns

Ministers have announced that businesses in England that are required to shut because of local interventions will now be able to claim up to £1,500 per property...

 Read Full Article
The Rule of Six – Will it Affect Employee Confidence When Returning to Work?

Boris’ new rule of six doesn’t apply to workplaces, but how might the tightening of lockdown measures affect general confidence when returning to...

 Read Full Article
Making Buildings COVID-Secure To Encourage Workers Back Could Cost Millions

Adapting workplaces to increase employee confidence could cost larger property owners several million pounds, according to a report by the Financial Times. Liviu...

 Read Full Article
Bartlett Mitchell Launches COVID-Safe Catering Solution

Catering services provider Bartlett Mitchell has announced the launch of “BM delivered”  to support clients looking for temporary food solutions during...

 Read Full Article
Does COVID Mean the End of Tea Rounds?

An undeniable staple of UK office culture, extra hygiene measures in workplaces to prevent COVID transmission may temporarily spell the end of the communal office tea and...

 Read Full Article
Commercial Property Fires See 46 Per Cent Spike Over Lockdown 

Commercial property owners and their tenants are being urged not to neglect fire risk assessments during the pandemic. The warning comes as property insurance...

 Read Full Article
Thermal Temperature Monitoring Keeping Key Workers Safe

The ability to monitor employees’ temperatures using contactless technology is helping to keep essential industries operating safely through the COVID-19...

 Read Full Article