SHUTTING the country down during the pandemic was always going to have consequences.
The current financial crisis is one of them.
Hundreds of billions of pounds were spent to pay people to stay at home, safeguarding jobs and businesses.
The problem now is that many are disinclined to return to their offices.
So-called ‘furlough fever’ has infected thousands, who prefer their new, work-life balance to the daily commute.
Half a million over-50’s left their jobs over the last two years, and studies show young people now choose flexibility and fulfilment over salary.
A survey last week found average UK office attendance at 29 per cent - just 1.5 days a week - with less than half of all UK employees commuting daily.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, new ONS figures show 2020’s output at its lowest since 1709, countering the argument from some, like the unions, that a four-day week would increase productivity.
Interestingly, a recent YouGov survey found that, while the majority of employees thought they got more done at home, more than 60 per cent of their bosses disagreed.
And that’s the point, surely.
The decision as to who works where is up to the employer.
The public sector has come under increasing scrutiny, with the passport office and DVLA failing utterly to keep up with demand, and some civil service departments barely half full.
Hybrid working is increasing everywhere, although US tech giants like Apple are facing mutiny over an insistence on three days in the office.
However, some industries, like banking, healthcare and energy, are reportedly seeing workers flocking back into offices, despite train strikes and higher petrol costs.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but the office environment is where communication, creativity and camaraderie thrive best.