Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said on Friday that “it’s now safe to go back to work” as the government are urging people to return to the office.
A government advertising campaign will start next week which will emphasise the benefits of returning back to workplaces, and will encourage employers to make their offices coronavirus secure.
The Transport Secretary said there is a limit “in human terms” to remote working, and more “progress” can be made from the office.
Shapps told Sky News, “What we’re saying to people is it is now safe to go back to work and your employer should have made arrangements which are appropriate to make sure that it is coronavirus-safe to work and you will see some changes if you haven’t been in for a bit as a result.”
He added, “We’re absolutely clear that employers and employees need to work together to resolve this and there are of course a whole host of sort of employee protections in place if employees have concerns about the work place for example, then the Health and Safety Executive, the local authority will be the right places to go.
“The vast majority of employers just want to get their businesses back up and running, they want to do the right thing, and many will have found that actually home working can work for some of their employees.
“But, as I say, I think there’s a limit, just in human terms, to remote working. And there are things where you just need to spark off each other and get together in order to make progress.
“So, I think common sense will prevail between employers and employees. It’s certainly what we’ve seen so far, and I very much think that will carry on next week as people do start to return more often to the office.”
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that without the return of people returning back to the office, city centres will become “ghost towns.”
She added, “The UK’s offices are vital drivers of our economy.
“They support thousands of local firms, from dry cleaners to sandwich bars. They help train and develop young people.
“And they foster better work and productivity for many kinds of business.”
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph a government source described working from home as “not the benign option it seems.”
The source added, “Suddenly the word ‘restructure’ is bandied about and people who have been working from home find themselves in the most vulnerable position.”