As of Monday the 17th of May 2021, indoor hospitality and entertainment was able to resume. This will be a welcome relief to furloughed employees. Employers who have been reliant on government relief will also take a collective sigh of relief. But will staff be going back to the office?
Staff will return to museums, theatres, cinemas, children’s play areas and more. However, the government’s official advice is that those who can work from home should continue to do so until June 21st 2021. It is perhaps unsurprising then that many of the UK’s largest employers (43 out of 50) told the BBC that they intended to adopt a hybrid way of working. As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, these firms will encourage staff to work from home for 2-3 days per week. Some are keeping this strategy under review though. So it will be interesting to see if they keep this approach once the pandemic is well and truly over.
At Amdas, we have heard that, where possible, many of our SME clients are adopting a similar approach.
The UK vaccination programme has, to date, been a success. Deaths have come down to the lowest levels since summer 2020. The decrease in mortality is obviously great news. It seems the vaccines are doing their jobs in reducing the risk of death.
However, there are still a number of unknowns about what will happen when restrictions are eased, and people return to offices. Especially in light of the virus mutations which are creating more virulent variants. Employers and scientists alike will be looking anxiously at Covid case numbers to see whether the vaccinated will still get symptomatic illness. This is because they will need to know if staff will need to take time off work to recover and self-isolate. While employers will be keen to ensure the wellbeing of staff, after a year or more of disruption, they will also be keen to figure out how much further disruption might be likely if symptomatic illness turns out to be as rife as it has in previous months.
Measures in place in offices
Companies have been busy making offices as Covid secure as they can. Throughout the summer of 2020, many had already invested in workspace dividers, temperature checking policies and equipment and increased cleaning measures. But in the gear up for May, further measures have been put in place such as offering regular lateral flow tests and even refurbing whole office spaces to allow for better ventilation and social distancing.
Back to the Office Future Outlook
It looks as though Covid and its variants are here to stay. It will be interesting to see if the roadmap reaches its destination in June. Whatever happens though, it looks like UK businesses have a firm handle on their new flexible working policies.