Politics

Millions return to office but fears only 10% of civil servants will go back

MILLIONS of employees finally quit working from home and returned to the office yesterday — but ministers fear just one in ten shirking civil servants will head back this week.

Boris Johnson last night urged the nation to return to workplaces, insisting there were significant benefits.

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Millions of employees finally quit working from home and returned to the office yesterdayCredit: Eyevine

But No10 was unable to say how many taxpayer funded penpushers in Whitehall departments had gone back so far.

And the Government is pessimistic about the numbers.

One insider told The Sun: “We will be lucky if we see more than ten per cent of civil servants back in departments this week.”

Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said yesterday: “As the PM has said, there are significant benefits to people going to work in the office.

“That’s why our approach is a gradual return to the workplace, and obviously it’s down to individual employers working with their employees on what is the right balance.”

And they insisted it was always busy in Whitehall despite claims some did not want to go in even for a single day a week.

Millions triggered traffic jams across the country — but only a quarter of staff are predicted to return to the office this week.

And most may never return full time as big companies are promising staff hybrid working — a mix of office and home.

Many staff are returning to offices on a part-time basis, often two or three days a week.

Those that do want staff in more are bribing them with cash bonuses, ice cream, free lunches and even yoga.

In the City of London, traders returned to the London Metal Exchange, which has been shut since the pandemic started.

We will be lucky if we see more than ten per cent of civil servants back in departments this week

London rush-hour returned as traffic equalled pre-pandemic levels yesterday and commuter trains were full once again.

Vehicle use is back to about 95 per cent of pre-Covid levels, while public transport is up to about 60 per cent on trains, buses and the London Underground, Government statistics show.

Birmingham and Liverpool were nearly as busy as in the typical morning rush-hour in 2019.

Journeys on the underground are at the highest level since the first Covid lockdown, with 831,000 riding the Tube.

However, just half the number of travellers were underground and travelling compared with before the March 2020 lockdown.

RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Car use is back to a pretty high level.”

About a quarter more staff are switching from home working to office working this week, said BrightHR, which monitors 250,000 employees at 10,000 workplaces.

As the PM has said, there are significant benefits to people going to work in the office

PM’s spokesperson

It coincides with school summer holidays ending and more employees being double-jabbed.

But millions may never go back — with companies, especially larger companies, realising they can slash costs of office space.

From September, most of Unilever’s UK-based staff will spend a couple of days in the office and two or three days at home or working remotely.

Barclays staff will move to a a mix of office and home working depending on their roles.

NatWest said its 38,000 staff in England and Scotland would begin a gradual return from next Monday but with “a balance between home and office working”.

BT’s 6,000 London-based staff will also slowly return this month — but again they will split time between home and the office under smart working.

Millions may never go back — with companies, especially larger companies, realising they can slash costs of office space

Bosses are trying to lure workers back with free food, social events, yoga and gym sessions plus bonuses, a Chartered Management Institute poll showed.

HR insiders said more firms will offer bonuses of £1,000-a-year or more to staff who return.

Some bosses believe the money is worth it as they feel staff work harder in a workplace than they have been doing at home.

The PM's spokesman insisted it was always busy in Whitehall despite claims some civil servants did not want to go in even for a single day a week

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The PM’s spokesman insisted it was always busy in Whitehall despite claims some civil servants did not want to go in even for a single day a weekCredit: Louis Wood
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