Staff pour back to offices at top firms and others consider plans to lure workers back to their desks – while survey shows more than half of senior managers continue to work from home
- Many companies recorded an uptick in employees getting back to their desks
- High street chain Boots was among those recording a steady rise in attendance
- Alistair Cox said full-time remote working was unlikely to become permanent
- Around 54% of middle management are continuing to work remotely, AA says
A string of top firms last night revealed their staff were pouring back into the office, with others saying they are considering plans to lure workers from their homes – but a survey has shown more than half of senior managers continue to work from home.
In a significant boost to the campaign to entice more office workers into city centres, many companies said they had recorded an uptick in employees getting back to their desks.
The news comes in a new Daily Mail audit of 30 FTSE 100 and top firms, representing more than 150,000 employees.
High street chain Boots was among those recording a steady rise in attendance, with around a third of its office staff now back at their desks at least a few days a week. No cases of Covid-19 have been recorded among this cohort.
But a survey by the AA has found 54 per cent of senior or middle managers who normally drove to the office have continued to work from home either all or part of the time, according to The Times.
The news comes in a new Daily Mail audit of 30 FTSE 100 and top firms, representing more than 150,000 employees
The AA’s head of roads policy, Jack Cousens, told the paper there was ‘a big irony’ in politicians telling car commuters to get back to work while increasing pedestrian access by closing off roads – as has been seen in London.
The motoring association called for better transport options for commuters, while also criticising the decision to hike the central London congestion charge from £11.50 to £15.
The boss of recruitment giant Hays vowed there would be no ‘turning our back on the office’.
Alistair Cox last night said full-time remote working was unlikely to become ‘a permanent thing’.
But he also predicted offices will be closed as companies assess whether to switch permanently to a ‘hybrid’ model, where home and office working are balanced.
Yesterday it emerged Capita, one of the UK’s biggest employers, will become the first major British firm to pull out of city and town centres by closing nearly 100 offices. The Government contractor – which collects the BBC licence fee and runs the London congestion charge – is set to close more than a third of its 250 offices across Britain; its 45,000 UK staff will continue to work from home.
The news will be a major blow to Boris Johnson’s back to work campaign, which is to be launched this week.
Yesterday it also emerged that BP is planning to sell its central London headquarters as part of a permanent shift in working patterns.
People hanging around Cabot Square in Canary Wharf with One Canada Square building in the background. The city’s financial district is still quiet
The developments will heighten fears for city centre businesses, from sandwich shops and pubs to dry cleaners and hairdressers, which rely on footfall from offices.
Last week CBI boss Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said working from home had turned some commercial centres into ‘ghost towns’. But in a glimmer of hope, several firms surveyed by the Mail said either workers were starting to trickle back or that plans were being drawn-up for bigger increases.
Many said numbers returning will rest on the Government’s success at getting children back to school this week.
Auditing giant PricewaterhouseCoopers said around a third of its 24,700 office workers were now spending at least some time at their desks and that this was increasing. And insurance giant Aviva expects numbers at desks to double in the coming weeks.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The Government has to lead the way and tell civil servants and companies “get back to work”.’
Derek Ray-Hill, from Cities Restart – a venture being launched next month to get people back to work, said: ‘Business leaders need to put on a mask, wash their hands and get back to work. They can’t keep waiting for someone else to take the lead.’
It comes after figures last week revealed only 17 per cent of staff have returned to work in the 63 biggest cities.
Capita and BP did not respond to requests for comment.