One thing’s for sure: we’ve all been in the same storm but different boats! The knock-on effects of the pandemic and lockdowns have affected all of us to some degree. Some in office support jobs in London are keen to get back into the office as soon as possible, whilst others are more wary or would prefer to keep working from home. At our London recruitment agency, we’re getting lots of questions about when others are going back to the office. We thought it would help if we share with you some of the most prevalent views from our network.
The roadmap timeline
The Government has set out a roadmap timeline for reopening the country. This is helping to inform employers’ decisions.
- On 29 March, the “stay at home” rule ended. However, people have been advised to continue working from home if they can. Travel should be kept to a minimum for the foreseeable.
- 12 April saw more businesses able to reopen, such as hairdressers, non-essential retail, outdoor attractions, and gyms.
- At step 3, which won’t be before 17 May, nearly all businesses will be able to reopen, including indoor entertainment venues.
- The final stage of reopening, currently planned for 21 June, will see the vast majority of the remaining restrictions lifted.
It should be noted that office-based employers are only using this timeline to shape their decisions — they’re not necessarily planning to bring workers back at the soonest possible opportunity. Instead, many have indicated to us that they’ll be guided by the vaccine rollout. As many office workers fall into the less vulnerable younger age groups, who are unlikely to receive their first vaccine before the late spring or summer, many employers are aiming for later office return dates than the roadmap gives. So what’s actually happening?
What has your employer decided?
“We’ve been told to continue working from home until August,” Jadine says. “Then there’ll be a phased return around holidays.”
Joshua’s not going back. “The company hasn’t renewed its office lease,” he told us. “We’re going to be working from home indefinitely.”
“We’re going back on a rota system from 12 April,” Ramilla explained. “The office will only be at a maximum of 50% capacity at any one time.”
“We’re already back in the office,” Eva said. “Our employer has been really inflexible about working from home. It’s why I’m looking for a new job. I feel like they’ve played Russian Roulette with our well-being.”
“I work in temporary jobs,” said Lee. “So, it’ll depend on who I’m working for at the time.”
Bailey told us what her office is doing, “We’ve been sent a huge document explaining how they’re making the office Covid secure, but it doesn’t include a return date. They’re waiting to see what happens as the country opens up. That’s fine, because working from home is going well, although I do miss my colleagues.”
“My business isn’t bringing people back until September,” Tim explained. “Then, the plan is to allow much more flexible working long term because working from home has been successful. Everyone will be allowed to work 2-3 days a week from home indefinitely.”
Are you happy with your employer’s approach?
We’re aware that, once again, this is a concerning time for employees. Some are desperate to get back in the office, and some are content with the current working arrangement. Without a consistent approach, it’s easy to look at others and think their employer is handling things better.
If you have genuine concerns about your employer’s approach to Covid safety and feel that what they’re proposing is dangerous or illegal, you can report them through the HSE. However, if you’d simply prefer they took a different approach, then there may be a mismatch, and you might want to consider moving on. Let us know if we can help.
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