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United Kingdom: firms tempted to keep mass remote working in place in September
Planet Labor, 27 August 2020, n°12091 - www.planetlabor.com

Only a fifth of UK companies plan to re-open their offices to staff next month, according to a survey conducted by specialist HR site People Management, reported on 25 August. The same study indicates that one third of employers will ask their staff to come into the office only a few days per week and that 15% of companies still do not know when staff will be brought back into the office. The desertion of UK offices is a concern to the Confederation of British Industry, the UK business organisation, which has called on employers to react. Josh Hardie, deputy director general of the CBI, says: “Remote working has been a real success for many firms and employees, and none of the many benefits should be lost. But there has also been a knock-on effect to our town and city centres, where many businesses dependent on passing trade face an uphill battle just to survive.” The evidence suggests this call is not being listened to, as the BBC found that 50 large companies are not planning to bring back all their full-time employees. These include tech giant Google, which is allowing employees to stay at home until 2021, and many banks. Barclays will allow three fifths of its 50,000 employees to work from home until October, before gradually allowing them to return. NatWest will keep remote working in place for 50,000 of its 65,000 employees until 2021. HSBC has planned a return to the office but only up to 20% of capacity. The Lloyds Banking Group has gone a step further by launching this summer an analysis on whether some office premises need to be kept.