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How will Britain return to the office? Employers are struggling with PM’s plea to have employees return

Boris Johnson’s call to have the nation’s workforce returned to offices will be deaf to many employers and employees, they tell MailOnline.

The prime minister urged companies that operate remotely to “go back to work” to breathe new life into the starving shopping street and get the recovery off to a flying start.

He said yesterday: “It is very important that people return to work if they can now.

“I want more people to feel confident using the stores, using the restaurants, getting back to work, but only if we all follow the guidelines.”

But demand will be quelled by companies that have overhauled for months to cope remotely while saving a fortune on high overheads like rent and bills.

Rather than embracing a rush back to the office, employers struggling with the Prime Minister’s announcement to MailOnline have said they will be cautious.

There is no doubt that office numbers will ever match pre-crisis levels, as companies reevaluate when they need the same amount of physical presence.

The Prime Minister urged companies operating remotely to 'go back to work' to revive the starving shopping street and jump-start the recovery

The Prime Minister urged companies operating remotely to ‘go back to work’ to revive the starving shopping street and jump-start the recovery

Boris Johnson's clarification call to return the country's workforce to offices will be deaf to many employers and employees, they tell MailOnline (file photo of a social distant office)

Boris Johnson's clarification call to return the country's workforce to offices will be deaf to many employers and employees, they tell MailOnline (file photo of a social distant office)

Boris Johnson’s clarification call to return the country’s workforce to offices will be deaf to many employers and employees, they tell MailOnline (file photo of a social distant office)

Lowri Tan, managing director of baby food brand Little Tummy, which operated pre-pandemic from an office in Soho, said the young company would not return.

While acknowledging the benefits of camaraderie in the office, she said the small team had done well during the crisis.

She told MailOnline: “The driving factor is definitely the money. As a small business, without the overhead and fixed overheads, it is not a wise use of company resources if we know we can work efficiently at home. ‘

Ian Girling, general manager of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce, said Ms. Tan’s mindset was captivated by small businesses across the country.

He told MailOnline, “The pandemic will require companies to think about all of their future work arrangements, and this can be challenging for companies juggling the need to have people in the office or work remotely from home.

“No doubt teleworking has worked extremely well for some companies and there are opportunities for some companies to save money in the future.”

Richard Lim, CEO of Retail Economics, said this was a “critical” factor for companies considering returning to the office.

He said bosses would consider whether the alleged productivity boost outweighs the savings many enjoyed during the pandemic.

The expert told MailOnline, “That’s an absolutely crucial point – whether the demand is large enough to make it commercially viable enough to reopen. And that’s a very difficult question to answer and a lot of it just doesn’t know. ‘

Businesswoman wearing a mask in a social detached office (file photo)

Businesswoman wearing a mask in a social detached office (file photo)

Businesswoman wearing a mask in a social detached office (file photo)

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, told Mail Online that a “critical” consideration for companies struggling to return to the office was whether it was worth it

An employee of a central London company with more than 200 employees told MailOnline last week that they were told their staff would not be returning to the office for the foreseeable future.

Regarding the condition of anonymity, the source said, “The main concern is that we don’t have to come back, so why rush?”

They said the company would wait and see how other companies would deal with the re-entry before getting the green light for their own employees.

Mr Lim said the crisis would have brought about a complete rethink for some companies that will allow some of their team to work remotely so that they can downsize and save money.

Mr. Lim explained the mindset of such companies: “We probably don’t need the same amount of space as we do, but out of necessity we managed to focus our way of working on something much more digitally oriented and actually given that rents are so expensive, if we come in on average two and a half days a week and people who work from home two and a half days a week, we don’t need space and that makes it a big savings for many companies. ‘

Lowri Tan (right), director of baby food brand Little Tummy, who operated pre-pandemic from an office in Soho, said the young company would not return

Lowri Tan (right), director of baby food brand Little Tummy, who operated pre-pandemic from an office in Soho, said the young company would not return

Lowri Tan (right), director of baby food brand Little Tummy, who operated pre-pandemic from an office in Soho, said the young company would not return

Although the prime minister is trying to get people back to work, he stressed that it must be done safely so as not to prevent a second attack from the virus.

But Mr. Girling accused him of “mixed messages,” telling MailOnline, “Once again, the Prime Minister’s comments have been extremely confusing for businesses and workers.

The mixed reports are not helpful when companies do their utmost to adapt and survive in incredibly difficult conditions.

‘It is clear that some employees would like to return to the office, while teleworking has worked very well for others.

Mr. Lim believes that the willingness of employees to return to work depends on their daily commute.

The expert told MailOnline, “It’s such a case-by-case basis, I think there is a real regional difference in the strategies of companies to get people back to work and for employees to get back to work.

‘London, public transport, with the Tube is a completely different situation than traveling by car.

“Many people have different views about the risk of the virus, how willing they are to expose themselves to a potential risk of contracting it.”

But with many offices in the pan during the pandemic, especially smaller ones, many companies will not have had time to redesign social distance measures.

An employer, Dr. Rakish Rana, general manager of The Clear Coach in London, told MailOnline that the return to the next job “is only feasible if companies have taken Covid security measures.”

He added, “Hot seating may not be an option at this time to limit workplace exposure, so only permanent desks with a label.

“Traveling to offices can or is a tax on public transport that is receiving more attention.”

Mr Lim, an employer himself, said: ‘In some parts of my office I have space between desks, but in most cases I have ensured that people come in on other days, so there is a two meter natural space and we I just have cleaners who come in every day. ‘

Edwin Morgan, policy director at the Institute of Directors who represents many employers, said, “There is a real mix between people who want to return and people who like to stay.

“Some directors are keen to get their teams back together but are wary of the health and safety implications, and we should remember that current guidelines still encourage homework where possible.

“A significant portion of our members say they plan to continue working remotely.”

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