The prime minister’s delay in encouraging workers to return to the office will have "catastrophic consequences" for businesses, large and small, according to a consultant.
London office expert, Peter Dudley of O&A Property Consultants, warns that not only will this hamper productivity in large companies but it will also "sound the death knell for many small businesses in the capital that rely on the daily business from local office workers".
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the end of the country's coronavirus restrictions this week as cases of the delta variant rose.
Dudley said: “After over a year of working from home, people are definitely getting zoom fatigue and productivity is taking a dive.
“Office workers are now really missing the office face-to-face contact with their colleagues. The longer it goes on, the more difficult working from home becomes, with the lack of interaction meaning a fall in creativity and inspiration, plus family distractions and lack of proper workspace and kit. The reduction in productivity is being noticed by big businesses, he said.
Dudley stated that his staff are fielding so many enquiries for flexible office space that he “can see no evidence of people continuing to work completely from home in the future".
He added: “But Boris needs to encourage people to get back to the office now, for at least part of the week, for the sake of the economy.”
Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says a delay – while understandable – is "regrettable".
He said: “Most businesses favour certainty and irreversibility over speed, as lifting and then reimposing restrictions would be a nightmare scenario for many firms.
“But we must acknowledge the pain felt by businesses in hospitality, leisure and live events. At best they’re operating with reduced capacity hitting revenues, and at worst, some aren’t open at all.
“Continuing restrictions means the government must urgently revisit the support available. That starts with holding back on the tapering of business rates relief and extending the commercial rent moratorium for those sectors most impacted. A solution must also be found for the hard-pressed international travel sector.
“Above all, we must now learn to live with the virus, with a growing focus on the data for long-term hospitalisations and deaths but also vaccine coverage. Firms do require greater clarity and guidance on the future of the government’s support for workplace testing, which is helping to keep staff and workplaces safe."