Despite the prime minister’s proposal of a “significant return to normality” by Christmas, it appears many businesses aren’t planning a rapid return to the old normal. Many are either streamlining their divisions, or in the case of finance teams, few provisions have been made for a return to the office in the near future.
Boris Johnson stated on Friday that the onus would be on employers to bring their staff back to work safely from August 1, but despite this, it appears most City firms aren’t raring to get back to the old way of doing things. Of it’s 6,000 London staff, Goldman Sachs has only returned 800 to the office, while fewer than 2,000 of JP Morgan’s 12,000 workforce are back to normal.
According to research performed by accounting and consultancy firm, Theta Financial Reporting, over 26% of Brits surveyed say their company’s finance teams will not be returning to the office with other staff this month, and will now work at home for the majority of the time. It added that 24% of those surveyed said that their employer hadn’t explored any flexible working options to help staff return to work.
It continued, stating that 70% of City-based staff now feel uncomfortable commuting to work via public transport, with these people also saying that journeys to and from the office will become one of the most stressful parts of the day.
Also, according to the company’s research, some 29% of business leaders said they had permanently streamlined their team in response to the COVID pandemic, with many finding certain roles to be unnecessary luxuries.
The company are in favour of flexible working arrangements, and said that its research illustrated a lack of desire to return to pre-pandemic working conditions.
Speaking on the report, Theta Financial Reporting Founder and Managing Director, Chris Biggs, commented:
“This research demonstrates the clear desire for people both in the Capital and finance teams not to return to their pre-COVID working environments, regardless of the calls from the Prime Minister to return to normality before Christmas.”
“Many businesses have adapted to working away from the office and with so many people caring for vulnerable relatives, friends and children, it seems people do not want to return in July or August, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions. This will have a significant impact on how our workplaces will look beyond lockdown.”
“From the commute to boosted productivity when working from home, there are numerous benefits to flexible working that this period has uncovered for millions of employers and employees alike. Business leaders would do well to realise this and adapt now to pivot their business, remove unnecessary overheads and plan for a post-COVID future.”
The future of potential work-from-home or home-office hybrid arrangements has already been an issue widely discussed during lockdown, and it will be interesting to see whether some of the suggestions made will come into force or simply fade away as a passing fad. For now, though, it is important that whatever working arrangements are in place encourage both the greatest extent of staff safety, and productivity.