Howard Dawber, Head of Strategy at Canary Wharf Group, has stated that people are fatigued after working from home for a year which will leave many wanting to return to the office.
This statement comes after news of the roadmap being announced which will see lockdown restrictions being phased out, with the earliest return to the office falling after the 21st June.
Despite this, Mr. Dawber did acknowledge that the majority of people would most likely opt for hybrid working, choosing to divide time between home and the workplace.
Mr. Dawber suggested that conditions have changed since last year and that working from home may have become tiresome for most now, with a desire to return to the office and city life.
We’ve got to the point where there is a lot of fatigue out there.
Working from home for the first couple of months of last year when the sun was shining and people were enjoying perhaps a more flexible environment, there was a sense that this was going to be a short-term process.
I think now people are really missing that opportunity to collaborate with and just see their friends in the office, to get your hair cut, to go and get a good coffee at lunchtime, and to do all the life admin things you can do in a city centre.
This echoes comments made by the Chancellor earlier this year which also encouraged a return to working life in the city. Mr. Sunak stated that “life has disappeared” from cities following COVID-19 which puts him “firmly in the camp” of encouraging a return to pre-COVID working conditions, to some extent.
However, the statements made by Mr. Dawber have been heavily criticised by various sources who have believe that, as head of a property company, Mr. Dawber has a vested interest in seeing people re-populate offices in the main financial district of London.
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, stated that this time should instead be utilised to find “more flexible and hybrid ways of working” which supports “choice, wellbeing and [changes] past cultures of presenteeism”.
In addition, the results of a recent survey undertaken by Robert Half showed that the vast majority of businesses (89 per cent) felt that hybrid working would become a permanent part of working life moving forward, refuting Mr. Dawber’s claims that there would be the “occasional day working from home” whilst the rest of the time was spent in the office.
In particular, most employees – over two-thirds (68 per cent) – expressed a desire to continue working from home for one to three days a week in the future. A further fifth of respondents (22 per cent) wanted to adopt full-time remote working permanently.
However, other bosses such as Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon have also advocated for a shift back to working in-person, stating that he did not think “as we get out of the pandemic, the overall operating mode of the way a business like [Goldman Sachs] operates will be vastly different”.