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CEO Linda Plant says return to work is necessary to ‘keep Britain great’

Known as one of The Apprentice’s tough interviewers, CEO Linda Plant isn’t kind to those who dream of working from home for the rest of their career after a lockdown.

Leeds-born Linda, who started her business life in a market stall, eagerly encourages people to return to the office when it is safe to do so.

She emphasizes that the staff returning to the workplace is what needs to be done to “keep Britain great” – for fear that otherwise ideas will become “boring and old” and that small businesses will suffer from lack of attendance.

Linda appeared on Good Morning Britain last month claiming that it is an employer’s ‘right’ to decide how to ‘run a business efficiently’ as long as they create a safe environment – but viewers were divided on the issue.

Here LINDA PLANT reveals why she thinks employees should stop working from home …

She's known for being one of the tough interviewers on The Apprentice, and CEO Linda Plant (pictured) isn't kind to those who dream of working from home for the rest of their career after lockdown

She’s known for being one of the tough interviewers on The Apprentice, and CEO Linda Plant (pictured) isn’t kind to those who dream of working from home for the rest of their career after lockdown

Let me tell you why I think people should go back to work, but before I do I just want to say this. I love our country and I am proud to be British. I want Britain to stay exactly that way. We must thrive and survive through this terrible pandemic.

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t really understand references to ‘the new normal’. What’s normal about life today? Wear face masks wherever we go? Our freedom from life as we knew it was greatly limited.

What is normal about people who are not lucky enough to lock up a yard in their house or apartment for weeks, many with small children? What’s normal about being forced into an existence of solitude and virtual isolation?

What would be normal are the devastating and disturbing consequences for people’s mental health and the panic that ensues. Not really knowing if our children can go to school again.

I have a 93-year-old mother who has been awarded an MBE for all of her charity work. Believe me, I want to see her 94th birthday. So I don’t take any precautions for granted. I’m not saying we shouldn’t accept these changes; they are important to our health and well-being.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see where the word “normal” appears in here. I agree that we need to have some acceptance of a new normal in order for life to continue, but I want to bring back some of our original normal.

Keeping our nation safe and protecting our NHS is of the utmost importance, I fully agree.

Leeds-born Linda (pictured), who began her career at a market stall, eagerly encourages staff to return to the office when it is safe to do so

Leeds-born Linda (pictured), who began her career at a market stall, eagerly encourages staff to return to the office when it is safe to do so

Leeds-born Linda (pictured), who began her career at a market stall, eagerly encourages staff to return to the office when it is safe to do so

Getting people back into the workplace requires careful planning and good communication so that your employees are as worried as possible by taking all necessary safety precautions.

But let me get back to why I really want people to go back to the workplace.

Like I said, I love our country. I have had quite a long journey. I was born at a time when it was the norm to play on the street, when we had communities and lots of small merchants. It’s no secret that my business life started on a market stall and I am very proud of it. Yes, acting is something I do understand, which is why I am so positive about people going back to the workplace.

I’m a Northern girl, born in Leeds, so it’s important to me not to forget all the other cities that make up Great Britain. Not everyone lives in zone 1 or works in the city. Not everyone in the UK commutes 45 minutes on the tube and spends a small fortune to get to the office. What about our cities, towns and villages outside of our capital?

Back to why I want to see people in the workplace again. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against progress, I am absolutely for it. But how will Britain thrive and survive? That is our concern.

I have always been an advocate of communication. Here are the reasons why we should get back to work.

When you are in your workplace you are not isolated, you can exchange ideas with each other, communication and collaboration encourage creativity and ideas. Ideas have to be shared and then they can grow into better ideas. Isolation does not promote the same enthusiasm as personal contact; it can make us dull and stale. There is no healthy competition or productive chatter from home.

Linda (pictured) insists that staff returning to the workplace is what needs to be done to 'keep Britain great'

Linda (pictured) insists that staff returning to the workplace is what needs to be done to 'keep Britain great'

Linda (pictured) insists that staff returning to the workplace is what needs to be done to ‘keep Britain great’

So many important relationships are formed on and from the workplace. I like people and I like to meet people. There is something integral and honest about human face-to-face communication that, in my opinion, can never be replaced by talking on a screen.

People need change – too much routine can be so damaging to mental health. The social aspect of a work environment, perhaps just going for that drink or dinner after work, is not only stimulating, but relationships and ideas emerge from social conversations. There are so many reasons to return to the workplace and so many businesses that simply cannot be run from home.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who have always worked from home and there are some people who will continue to work from home; I understand this.

But do you know what my big concern is? It’s the drip effect; it is the domino effect for our SMEs. Small and medium-sized businesses are vital to our economy. These are companies that usually employ less than 250 people. In 2019, SMEs represented 60 percent of our employment, about 16 million people.

These companies need support; they are essential to our economy; we need them and we trust them and we need to get them going. They need our support to survive and keep their jobs.

Cities, villages, village shops need people, customers. When people see other people shopping and buying, it’s encouraging; we must support our coffee shops and small and medium-sized merchants of all kinds.

How will they survive if we don’t get people back to the workplace? How will Britain survive when unemployment is huge? Our SMEs need us!

We have to keep Britain great.

Linda recently founded the Linda Plant Business Academy to provide help, advice and support to people who are doing business or starting a new business in turbulent times. Details about her business courses can be found at www.lindaplant.com

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