A return to the workplace is a return to economic recovery

We're finally in a position where we can see the finish line to lockdown 3.0. With the government's rapid response to getting the population vaccinated, hope is on the horizon.

A return to the workplace is a return to economic recovery

We’re finally in a position where we can see the finish line to lockdown 3.0. With the government’s rapid response to getting the population vaccinated, hope is on the horizon. On 22nd February, Boris Johnson announced the government’s exit strategy, unveiling the beginning of the end of our last lockdown.

On that note, it’s time businesses start to follow suit and consider how they too will return to normality ‘ beginning with getting workers back into the office post-lockdown. Some companies, such as Shopify, a global e-commerce platform, have announced plans to allow staff to permanently work remotely as office centricity is over. To me, this just seems ludicrous! For the country to recover socially and economically, businesses need staff back in the office.

Working from home has impacted workers’ mental health, with many reporting higher levels of anxiety and depression. That doesn’t surprise me, sitting on Zoom calls all day is bound to suck the energy out of anyone. Workers are also more likely to get distracted from their actual work whilst at home ‘ whether it’s doing household chores or procrastinating. And who can blame them, there’s only so much screen time we can take! Nevertheless, you can’t expect to run a successful business with bored, restless, and ‘zoomed out’ workers. Once workers get back to the office, I’m sure we will see productivity levels skyrocket. 

As well as the mental health impact of office closures, the economy has also suffered. Not only are shared workplaces more collaborative and dynamic, promoting greater creativity and productivity, but remote working is also having a devasting effect on our city centres. Many businesses based in the city have lost a majority of their customers because of lockdown restrictions. Think of all the lunch spots and coffee houses in the city that rely on office workers to keep their businesses afloat. Think of all the pubs and bars that make a majority of their profits from office workers ‘popping out for a quick one’ after work. These businesses are the lifeblood of our society but they simply won’t survive if companies decide not to re-open their offices post-Covid. 

Let’s face it, the threat of the virus isn’t going anywhere any time soon – even with the vaccine. We need to find ways businesses can operate safely in the pandemic and start rolling those measures out now to prepare for the return to the workplace soon. 

Non-essential businesses need to look at us essential businesses and take note. The team at Pimlico Plumbers has gone to great lengths to operate successfully and safely throughout all three lockdowns, using the necessary PPE, temperature checks and introducing our own Covid testing programme.

I get that my ‘No Jab, No Job’ scheme may be a bit extreme for some businesses, however, I also ensure all my staff are tested for Covid weekly. With news that Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, is prepared to offer extra funding to help businesses test their staff, it seems about time non-essential businesses in other sectors get the ball rolling and start to get as many of us as possible back to working in the office.

Although a hybrid model of remote working and office-based working seems the most popular post-Covid approach, I think we need to place more emphasis on the office. I’m all about compromise, but you go to the office to work and you come home to relax. However, right now the two are being blended and it’s unhealthy! Businesses need to understand the important role offices have in our country’s recovery and that they’re completely within their right to ask their staff to come back into the workplace once the pandemic is over.

For the UK economy to make a full comeback, hibernating businesses need to start playing catchup now, learn from the businesses that have been forced to evolve and live with the virus since March 2020, and perhaps they too will make it out to the other side.

Charlie Mullins
Charlie Mullins

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