2 December, 2022

The New Normal? Why Some Businesses Aren’t Returning To The Office

Dozens of large businesses have declared that they don’t have any dates for an immediate return to work for nearly half a million of their office-based workers. Some have even said that they don’t ever see normal pre-pandemic office working returning.

This is despite the government’s guidance to work from home ending on August 1st  so that office workers can return to the workplace as the discretion of their employers.

The latest announcement is that Google has formalised its ‘new normal’ office working from home policy telling its 200,000 global office workers they do not need to go back to their Google office until July 2021.

The NatWest Group which owns RBS are reporting that they have told their 49,000 staff working from home to continue with their current arrangements until 2021 because they’re prioritising their workers’ and their customers’ health and wellbeing.

BT has some 52,000 UK office-based staff and around 40,000 of them are working from home with 10,000 in critical customer facing and network operations work teams continuing to attend the office. BT have reported that staff will only return to the office when ‘safe to do so’ and that they have not made a decision on this at this point.

PWC has some 22,000 office workers, with only around 1,500 having returned part-time to the office and they envisage that around 50% will have returned by the end of September 2020 under their current plans based on safety criteria and, in particular, where office workers don’t need to travel to work by public transport.

Deloitte has a majority of its 20,000 office-based staff working from home and are considering planning the reopening more of their offices having opened some in July for staff who found it difficult to work from home.

Aviva has about 17,000 office workers with the vast majority to remain working from home ‘for the time being’ and with only around 500 having already returned to offices.

KPMG has recorded that fewer than 10% of its 16,000 UK office workers have returned to their offices for ‘business-critical reasons’ with the vast majority continuing to work from home for most of the rest of 2020.

Rolls-Royce have reported that a ‘very small percentage’ of more than 14,000 of its office-based staff had returned to work and that it doesn’t have any detailed plans to announce yet when office staff would be asked to return because office-based employees are continuing to enjoy work productively at home and so flexible working arrangements have been made available and expanded.

The bank HSBC has over 12,000 office-based staff located in London and Birmingham and they have said that they did not have any current plans to announce any imminent return to working in the office.

Ernst and Young currently have over 11,000 office staff and after consulting them have reported that their offices would reopen in September but not all staff will return immediately because they are following government guidelines.

Scottish and Southern Energy employs about 10,000 office staff, the majority of whom will continue to work from home until at least October as a result of the business conducting an in-depth survey of their employees’ experiences and opinions of working from home and acting on this feedback.

AstraZeneca has stated that 75% of its 8,300 UK office workers are still working from home and won’t start returning to their offices until September, when they will begin a ‘phased approach’ back.

Vodafone has 7,850 office staff with just around 1 per cent having returned to work from their office. The firm has stated that it broadly expects ‘to stay as we are’ until the end of 2020 because it expects to use a mixture of office-based and remote home working in the future.

Of Admiral insurance’s 7,500 office staff just 1,150 have returned to its offices located in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. They have stated that the heart of their decisions around returning to the office is the wellbeing of their staff and also ensuring they follow the current guidelines.

BP have around 6,500 office staff with only a ‘small number’ of them returning to work and stating that it may be months before things return to the pre-pandemic normal because they are only at the beginning of this planning process.

Microsoft’s 4,500 UK office workers will not be required to return to the office until at least November 2020 following a new hybrid workplace strategy they’ve put in place as workplaces slowly start to open.

National Grid has no current plans for their 4,000 office-based staff to return to work until at least October 2020 as they are still in the process of reviewing their next steps with the expectation of a return to the office being a gradual and carefully managed process.

Of Airbus’s 3,000 office-based workers located in Bristol only about 20 per cent of its staff have returned to normal office working with a planned phased return to begin from mid-August to get their office-based staff back on site.

Unilever has about 2,000 office staff and they say they foresee it being many more months before these office staff begin returning to work as usual and this aspect of their way of working may never return to normal because a hybrid mix of working from home and the office may become the ‘new normal’.

The resulting impact on the economies of these workplace locations because these office-based workers aren’t spending in the place where they work could be huge. Watch this space!


Business Talk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.