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Employment law for employers

Bankers told to return to the office

With an end to work-from-home guidance announced last week some businesses are expected to announce a full return.

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Updated on 24th Jan

Last week the government has announced an end to the working-from-home guidance with immediate effect to a mixed reception. Some businesses are expected to announce a full return to the office, while others may elect to retain home working for a while longer, or a combination of both.

As reported by the BBC, banks and insurers are leading the way getting staff back into the office; HSBC and Standard Chartered announced an immediate return with Citigroup and Goldman Sachs planning to resume onsite working imminently.

It could prove difficult to enforce a blanket approach given the unexpected speed of the changes. It’s reported that although some employees are keen to return others have concerns about safety issues given the high infection rates and anxiety about getting back onto public transport where mask wearing is not observed by all.

Let’s also keep in mind that most people do not like radical changes to their routine. The new normal for many has been working-from-home for almost two years, so flicking a switch and asking them to come back to the office now is going to present some significant challenges especially for those who have embraced more time with their families, saved money on expensive commutes and been more productive without the distractions of office life. For others, collaboration and social interaction, the working environment and related events have been sorely missed, especially at the younger end of the spectrum.

It’s widely predicted that hybrid working patterns will continue and from a practical perspective, those businesses that have reduced their space during the pandemic may not be able to accommodate everyone as they did previously or at least not that quickly.

Of course flexible working patterns were already well established before Covid, so we expect these will continue with a greater degree of acceptance by management who will be keen to retain their staff and perhaps consider offering a more flexible working model for those who want it.

No doubt transport networks and city centres are desperate for commuters to return in large numbers and only time will tell whether this materialises and how quickly. Conversely the neighbourhood coffee shops and facilities that have largely benefitted during the pandemic will be hoping that revenue is not adversely impacted by the migration back to city life.

 

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Tania Goodman

Partner - Head of Employment

tania.goodman@collyerbristow.com



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