THE Centre for Cities has told BBC Radio 5 that the five-day office week could become the norm again within two years. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a blend of home and office work which was popular as the UK economy got back on its feet, but that could all change in the months and years ahead.
The trigger for a more conventional office will likely be the ending of social distancing restrictions. Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at Centre for Cities, said he ‘expects we’ll see three or four days a week in the office as the UK recovers. Over the longer term, I’m quite hopeful we’ll see people return five days a week. The reason for that is, one of the benefits of being in the office is having interactions with other people, coming up with new ideas and sharing information.’
He said people could not do this by scheduling a three o’clock meeting on a Tuesday – it had to happen randomly.
However, some global corporates seem prepared to continue the flexible working policy introduced since the start of the pandemic. ‘If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen,’ said Twitter’s vice president of people, Jennifer Christie, in a statement to CNN Business.
And Brian Armstrong, ceo of Coinbase, said in a blog post: ‘After the restrictions of quarantine are over, Coinbase will embrace being ‘remote-first’, meaning we’ll offer the option to work in an office or remotely for the vast majority of roles. Whether in an office or remote, being ‘remote-first’ means we will all need to shift how we work.’
In the UK, Office for National Statistics data published in May surprisingly revealed most people didn’t work from home in 2020, although the proportion of workers who did more than doubled during the pandemic.