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Britain’s biggest 50 firms have no plans to return staff to the office full-time

FIFTY of the biggest UK employers questioned have said they have no plans to return all staff to the office full-time in the near future.

The BBC surveyed 50 unnamed big employers ranging from banks to retailers to get a sense of when they expected to ask employees to return to the office.

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Some 24 firms said that they did not have any plans in place to return workers to the office.

Another 20 say they will gradually reopen office space. 

The same amount have opened their offices for staff unable to work from home – but not to everyone.

It comes as many employees return to work from the summer holidays with the reality of a prolonged period of home working becoming increasingly likely. 

One of the main reasons given for the lack of a substantial return was that firms could not see a way of accommodating large numbers of staff while social distancing regulations were still in place.

Many companies said they were offering choice and flexibility to those who want to return, particularly in the banking and finance sectors.

Separately, the Chartered Management Institute found a whopping 93 per cent of its managers report that all or some employees in their organisations are still home-working.

The CMI’s membership is largely drawn from office-based workers. 

The news comes after senior business leader Carloyn Fairbairn urged Boris Johnson to help get workers back in offices. 

The head of the Confederation of British Industry warned Boris Johnson that city centres risk becoming “ghost towns”. 

Dame Carolyn said the knock on effect of workers staying away from the office damages thousands of local firms, from dry cleaners to sandwich bars. 

She told the Daily Mail: “The UK’s offices are vital drivers of our economy.

“The costs of office closure are becoming clearer by the day. Some of our busiest city centres resemble ghost towns, missing the usual bustle of passing trade.

“This comes at a high price for local businesses, jobs and communities.” 

Dame Carolyn called for the introduction of flexible season tickets for workers, mass widespread testing, and for the government to tell workers more about safety measures. 

She added: “It’s time for the UK to bring its workplaces back to life, or we will look back with regret at the jobs lost, training missed, and communities harmed.

“We ask the Government to work with business to build confidence in returning to offices, starting now.” 

A fresh survey of 8,000 adults from eight countries shows UK and US workers are least likely to want to return to the office. 

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