Return to the office begins as restrictions axed

Return to the office begins in England as restrictions axed

1/20/2022 2:03:00 PM

Return to the office begins in England as restrictions axed

Business groups broadly welcome end of working-from-home guidance, but there are safety concerns.

"We'll be talking to those people individually and finding solutions that work for them.""We had a flexible working policy prior to the pandemic, but [Covid] meant suddenly everybody was experiencing the benefits and some of the downfalls and we've learnt a lot," he told the BBC's Wake up to Money.

Business groups have broadly welcomed the easing of Plan B restrictions in England, with the CBI calling for "greater consistency in how we live with the virus in the longer term"."It is something we have to now live with."But some have questioned the safety of the move at time when the NHS remains under severe pressure.

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Why would you want to sit in traffic every day, knowing you can work from home? Ah yes, more chances to get inappropriately close to as many people as possible. After lunch of course.🍻 ( I have used a very old picture which could be construed as misleading. But I am hoping for a career in journalism.)

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All the major changes to Covid restrictions from TODAY after Plan B axedBORIS Johnson yesterday announced he’s scrapping almost all Covid restrictions in a huge boost to millions of Brits. The PM said he’s binning all of the Plan B measures which were intro… He'll back track once everyone's rediscovered love Island again! Keep away from the rancid dog, you don’t know what you’ll catch.

Workers face first commute since Plan B axed as masks in classrooms endBoris Johnson announced Plan B measures would be axed with work-from-home guidance scrapped immediately.

What are the new working from home rules? "We will take the same approach as we did last September [after restrictions were previously eased]," global head of creative Chris Hirst told the BBC's Today programme. "Many of our employees really do want to come back into the office, but there are some people who are nervous and we don't have a one size fits all approach to that. "We'll be talking to those people individually and finding solutions that work for them." Insurance firm Zurich, which employs 4,500 in the UK, said it was "excited" to welcome staff back to its offices. But chief operating officer John Keppel said he expected most staff would continue working on a hybrid basis, as they had done for several years. "We had a flexible working policy prior to the pandemic, but [Covid] meant suddenly everybody was experiencing the benefits and some of the downfalls and we've learnt a lot," he told the BBC's Wake up to Money. "Most of our employees will be operating some form of flexible working going forward." 'Greater consistency' Business groups have broadly welcomed the easing of Plan B restrictions in England, with the CBI calling for "greater consistency in how we live with the virus in the longer term". Lord Stuart Rose, chairman of Asda and former boss of Marks and Spencer and Argos, hailed the decision to scrap the guidance. "I cannot believe we have a nation sitting at home now cowered by this government, because they are fearful of this virus," he said. "It is something we have to now live with." Image source, Getty Images But some have questioned the safety of the move at time when the NHS remains under severe pressure. The British Chambers of Commerce also urged the government to improve access to rapid testing so firms could bring staff back to workplaces with confidence. "With infection rates still high, many firms are experiencing significant staff absences and will be cautious about teams rushing back to the office when that could result in further absences," director general Shevaun Haviland said. "Maintenance of testing capacity must also be a priority for government, with reports still reaching us of firms unable to access rapid testing at times when they need it." Boost for city centres Unions also said employers had to ensure a safe return to work, and provide flexible working when staff wanted it. The TUC called for a better sick pay offer from government amid concerns that many workers will be infected and have to take time off on statutory sick pay. Others, however, said the change in guidance was overdue for city centre retailers, which rely on commuter trade that has dried up over the last few months. Most workers do not expect full office return On Thursday, the City Pub Group, which has 46 sites, said it expected "consumer confidence and consequently demand" to grow once office workers return to work. And the Gym Group said demand was returning after a slow December, and would "show further improvement" due to the end of work from home guidance. Matthew Fell, the CBI's chief policy director said: "Blanket work-from-home guidance has had significant downsides for city centre trade in sectors such as hospitality and retail." According to BBC research in September, most people do not believe workers will return to the office full-time after the coronavirus pandemic . A total of 70% of 1,684 people polled predicted that workers would "never return to offices at the same rate". Are you returning to the office? How do you feel about going back? Get in touch by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk . Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways: WhatsApp: