A recent study shows that prolonged work-from-home setup could hurt the U.K. economy further and is likely to rebound to its pre-pandemic levels until 2025.
The U.K. economy has been in a freefall since the coronavirus crippled the country’s economic activities. Yet a new study suggests that—given its current situation—it will take years before its economy recovers.
Remote work halts U.K. economy recovery
The study, which was conducted for the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), claims that the U.K. economy could lose an estimated US$568.2 billion if British employees continue to work from home.
The study arrived following several huge firms’ plans to close most of their offices, including outsourcing giant Capita. And per the company’s announcement, it would close over a third of its 250 offices across Britain.
In a worst-case scenario, on the one hand, former chief economic adviser at the Confederation of British Industry predicts that the country’s economy will return to its pre-pandemic size not until 2025.
“If we carry on working at home when at least half want to return, we run the risk of turning into a 90% economy with GDP stuck a 10th down off its peak,” ex-chief economic adviser Douglas McWilliam explained, per The Guardian.
McWilliams also warned of severe damage to the U.K. economy if companies permanently shift to remote work as it will reduce the country’s economic activity generated by socializing and commuting.
Pret a Manger, for example, has announced last week that it will slash about 2,900 jobs due to the impact of telecommuting, which prompts empty town and city centers.
At the same time, several companies also allowed their employees to continue working from home indefinitely.
U.K. launches “return-to-office” campaign
On a good note, the national government announced last week that it will launch a return-to-office campaign, which is set to begin this week. The move came following complaints about empty city and town centers looking like ‘ghost towns’ due to low foot traffic brought by telecommuting.
Primarily, the campaign aims to lessen the number of people who work from home. But officials said it will also promote the emotional and mental benefits of working with colleagues.
Employers are urged to persuade their employees too—whether it is by reassuring that the workplace is safe or other perks.
However, several labor figures criticized the government’s campaign. Labour’s shadow minister, for instance, called the move “unethical” and a threat to U.K. employees. Although Whitehall sources, according to BBC, insisted that the campaign would not suggest folks who opt to continue remote work are vulnerable to being dismissed.
The campaign will be promoted through regional media.