UK ‘ghost towns’ may force employees back into office

The U.K. government wants employees to work in offices again, saying those who work from home is vulnerable for being furloughed.

The U.K. government is set to launch a new campaign as a means to encourage employees to return to the office again. While it is said to promote the mental and emotional benefits of working with colleagues, the action also aims to lessen the number of people working from home amid fears of town and city centers turning into ghost towns.

U.K. employees return to office

Per the announcement, corporate employees will be asked to return to the office again, starting next week. The government urged employers to encourage their workers through safety protocols that will be followed in the workplace to prevent coronavirus from spreading.

“We are working closely with employers across the country to help them make workplaces COVID-secure and give people the confidence to go back to work during the coronavirus pandemic,” a government spokesperson said, per The Guardian.

The campaign was decided following a warning from business leaders arguing remote work is hurting town centers. Transport secretary Grant Shapps also stressed that there are things that are “impossible” to do while being in a work-from-home setup.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, on the other hand, said that he cares more about workers’ performance rather than where they are working.

As part of the campaign, the government is said to promote the benefits of returning to the office next week. The government will raise awareness surrounding the matter as well as layout necessary protocols to help employers keep the offices coronavirus-free.

Moreover, the campaign will be promoted through regional media, according to a BBC correspondent.

“Unconscionable” campaign

UK ‘Ghost towns’ may force employees back into office

Some labor figures, however, had called out the campaign for forcing employees to choose between their health or job. Labour shadow’s minister, for instance, argued that the move is “threatening people” and is “unconscionable.”

But per the BBC, Whitehall sources stressed that the campaign would not suggest people who will opt to work remotely are vulnerable to being sacked.

Additionally, CBI’s director-general explained that the idea is “not about compulsion.” Rather, it is a way to save offices that are at risk of collapsing.

“Our offices are at risk of dying. And we would regret that very much if we allowed that to happen,” Dame Carolyn Fairbairn told Times Radio.

She then suggested a hybrid approach—with home and office setup mixed—as a solution moving forward.

Images courtesy of fizkes/Shutterstock, CoWomen/Pexels

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