On Friday, Boris Johnson held out the prospect of a “significant return to normality” by Christmas as he announced a fresh easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
After four months of encouraging the public to work from home to help contain the spread of coronavirus, the prime minister said from 1 August the onus would be on employers to decide whether staff could safely come back to the office.
This comes as large, city-based firms appear to not be sending the majority of their staff back into the office. Just 800 of Goldman Sachs’s 6,000 London staff have returned, while fewer than 2,000 of the 12,000 at JP Morgan are back.
Theta Financial Reporting, a consulting and accounting firm that promotes flexible working for highly qualified accountants, has released new research into the financial services and in-house finance teams and their return to work. It reveals that:
- 26% of Brits say their company’s finance teams will not be returning to the office with other employees in July and will now work at home for the majority of the time
- 29% of business leaders say they have streamlined their team permanently because of the COVID-19 crisis as they discovered some roles were surplus to requirements
- 24% of Brits say their employer hasn’t explored any flexible working options to help them or their colleagues return to work
- 70% of City-based workers do not feel comfortable commuting to work via public transport anymore and think it will be one of the most stressful parts of their day
This research shows Brits and their finance teams are not returning to work despite calls from the Prime Minister to return to normality. With a quarter of Brits not being offered flexible working options to keep them safe and nearly a third of business leaders permanently streamlining their teams, this period is pivotal to the survival and growth of the UK economy. Chris Biggs, Managing Director and Founder of Theta Financial Reporting, 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.”