Working from home has become the new normal for thousands of employees as businesses up and down the country adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. As coronavirus restrictions continue to ease, the Westminster Government is now planning a newspaper and television campaign to get employees back to their offices.
Ministers will urge bosses to reassure staff it is safe to return by highlighting measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The campaign comes as the coronavirus crisis plunged Britain into a recession – with thousands of job losses on the high street and city centres.
Now, a poll of more than 2,000 Express.co.uk readers has found seven-out-of-ten people believe it is now safe to return to the workplace.
The survey conducted on Saturday, August 29 between 10.09am and 8.30pm asked 2,354 readers: “Do you feel safe returning to the office after lockdown?”
The vast majority of people, 70 percent (1,633), said they do feel safe to return and voted yes.
Just 29 percent (679) of people did not feel it is safe to go back to the office and voted no.
Meanwhile, just one percent (41) remained unsure and said they did not know.
A number of Express.co.uk readers let their feelings known in the comments section.
One user said: “Most of the people with real jobs have already gone back to work and many more never stopped. Go back to work.”
A second reader wrote: “If you can go to the pub, go to the beach and go shopping, you can jolly well get back to the office.”
Meanwhile, a third commented: “Some of us have been going to work since it started. No cases in our work or any relatives of anyone.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps laid the groundwork for the Government’s messaging campaign next week by claiming it was now safe to return to workplaces.
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Speaking on Sky News, he said: “What we’re saying to people is it is now safe to go back to work and your employer should have made arrangements which are appropriate to make sure that it is coronavirus-safe to work and you will see some changes if you haven’t been in for a bit as a result.”
His comments came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday he had “absolutely no idea” how many Department of Health civil servants have returned to the office and added he cares more that they are doing their jobs effectively.
In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon said she will not “countenance” people being intimidated into going back to work in offices.
The First Minister said reopening offices too soon would risk the virus spreading and compromise the ability to keep schools open.
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The SNP leader said “we want to get back to normal as quickly as possible” and her Government will work in a “phased way” to support the return of offices that have not yet reopened.
But she added: “That has to be done in the context of suppressing the virus.”
It has emerged Ministers could face an uphill battle in motivating staff back into town and city centre workplaces after newly-published research suggested employees would like to continue home working after the pandemic.
According to a report called “Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown”, nine out of 10 people in the UK who have worked remotely during lockdown want to continue doing so.