The Prime Minister has announced that the government’s “work from home” guidance will end from the 1st August, although it seems that his key senior scientific advisers may not have got the message. Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Adviser, is still insisting that people keep working from home.
We all understand why the Government is changing its guidance – the economic recovery will be hampered by unduly cautious behaviour on the part of employers and employees – but members working from home are in no rush to get back to the office. In a recent survey we carried out, 40% of Lloyds staff said they didn’t want to go back to work and 51% said they would work from home for 2-3 days a week if given the choice. 71% said they were saving up to £500 per month by working from home.
Lloyds has said that because of the changes to the way it works it will need fewer buildings/offices. The Chief Executive of WPP, the advertising giant, said that more home working would save the firm £650 million a year on office space. RBS has told 50,000 of its staff that the majority of them would continue to work from home until early 2021. The bank should be cautious of any deadline and there should be no mad rush to get staff back to offices without first asking them what they want to do.
Members should expect to see some fundamental changes to way they work and where they work in the future. In a recent article on home working, the Economist said: “The pandemic has made remote working both normal and acceptable. In the past employees who stayed at home had to overcome the suspicion that they were bunking off. Now those insist on being at the office sound self-important. For more than a century workers have stuffed themselves onto crowded trains and buses, or endured traffic jams, to get into the office, and back, five days a week. Far the past two months they have not had to commute, and will have enjoyed the hiatus”. Interestingly, The Office for Budget Responsibility said that the amount of income households put aside rather than consume, jumped from 5% in February to 30% at the height of the pandemic. As our research showed, many Lloyds staff working from home are making significant savings on train fares, lunches, coffees and entertainment after work.
But the current new normal is not a Utopia for everyone. Some 38% of workers said that it is harder to strike a work-life balance when working from home. And we know there are some members who are desperate to get back to the office.
We will be reviewing potential changes, which we hope will be a mixed model with more home working for staff that want it, and will cover those in more detail in future Newsletters.
In the meantime, members with any comments or issues they would like us to deal with should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).