By s1jobs

There have been plenty of weighty predictions about the lasting transformations taking place because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with much speculation about the future balance between office and home-based working.

A study by the Financial Times found that many employers are planning to keep the majority of their staff working remotely until at least early next year. In a similar exercise, the BBC recently questioned 50 of the UK’s largest employers about their intentions for staff.

Nearly half of the latter had no plans in place for repatriating home-based workers, and it seems many of those employees are likewise in no rush to return. A survey this past week highlighted the fact that in Glasgow, nearly three-quarters of workers remain reluctant amid health concerns, with 29 per cent not comfortable with the idea “whatsoever”.

There are those who crave getting back to the camaraderie of the office, or who have found it difficult to work from home because of a lack of space, childcare demands or other personal circumstances. But even after these fears have abated and restrictions are lifted, the majority – 59 per cent, according to a poll by Marie Claire and LinkedIn – would like to carry on working from home some or all of the time.

Does this signal the end of the office job as we knew it? If so, there will be multiple ramifications, not least of which is the impact this will have on businesses that rely on the footfall of office workers.

Many such as sandwich chain Pret-a-Manger have already announced closures and job cuts because of the emptying of our town centres. As the coronavirus crisis has accelerated structural changes that were already taking place on the high streets, the challenges facing our city centres are stark.

This has prompted the UK Government into campaign to encourage employees in England back into the workplace. But here in Scotland, working from home remains the First Minister’s “default position”, and with infection rates once again rising, it is extremely doubtful that stance will change any time soon.

While the “death of the office” has been much exaggerated, some shifts are gaining a feeling of permanence. Many businesses are downsizing their office space, suggesting a blended approach of remote and office-based work will become the norm. Though the concept has been around for a while, “flexible working” is getting ready to truly transcend the employment market.