Work from home from Monday 'if you can,' contractors told

Work from home “if you can” returns to restrictions on all workers across England from Monday.

Boris Johnson cued up the return of the WFH policy yesterday, at a Downing Street news conference where he said the government would initiate ‘Plan B’ to combat Omicron.

The prime minister said reintroducing work from home guidance was “proportionate and responsible” as is, he said, having to wear a face covering from Friday in most public venues.

'Discuss working arrangements'

“Employers should use the rest of the week to discuss working arrangements…but from Monday, you should work from home if you can,” Mr Johnson said in a televised address.

“Go to work if you must, but work from home if you can. I know this will be hard for many people, but by reducing your contacts in the workplace you will help slow transmission.”

But it won’t be hard for contractor accountant Alan Broome.

'Our firm decided last week'

“I’m glad the government have caught up with a decision I made last week,” he posted.

“For my business it makes absolutely no odds to whether we work in an office or from home, except our junior team…[who] are missing out on learning things almost by osmosis.”

Owner of accountancy firm Acumenica, Mr Broome added: “I do worry for businesses that can’t adapt…and will now have staff putting pressure on them to take decisions that will ultimately cost business profit”.

'Good'

Recruitment agency Bowers Partnership is another of the contractor sector’s ‘adapter businesses.’

Natalie Bowers, the founder of the niche agency, which pre-covid had a commercial premises but now has all its staffing work from home, says it is a “good” thing WFH is back, officially.

That pits the agency boss against a few other recruiters who on the eve of the first Omicron restrictions, indicated WFH was not necessary to re-impose.

But since then, the UK has been confirmed as having the most Omicron infections in Europe (just shy of 600), although experts say the true number of cases is closer to 10,000.

'Bridging the gap'

Robson Smith, business program manager at Microsoft sounds unfazed however; even enthused.

He reflected online: “As the UK government reintroduces working from home, it was great to meet my team today for the last time this year.

“[Using] Teams...we were able to bring those remote together, bridging the gap between in-person and virtual [which is reassuring given] hybrid working will continue into next year”.

'Difficult judgements'

Before Mr Johnson’s announcement yesterday, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Scots to work from home over the festive period but also into January 2022.

She said the WFH return was an example of the “difficult judgements” ahead, yet if one social media post is an indicator, more hours at home may lead to more business graduates.

“With the [last] work from home policy, I managed to convert the usual 2+ hours daily commute time into studying courses from [my technology school],” said a LinkedIn user.

“And here, after 15 months juggling between works, networking and study, I managed to one-up myself to be an Executive MBA graduate.”

'Working from home won't help'

The comments come after a survey showed that more than one in 10 people who worked from home during the first covid pandemic of March 2020 experienced domestic abuse.

By contrast, only 1% of people who continued to go into the office suffered the same “violence” or “domestic abuse,” found thinktank Bright Blue, which surveyed 3,000 adults.

Last night, Tory MP Simon Jupp tweeted:“I don’t support Plan B. Plan B will cost jobs in many sectors…[and] working from home won’t help our social or economic recovery.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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