More than a third of the UK’s office-based workforce is still working from home to the anger of some bosses – and politicians. Is hybrid working the new normal, or can firms tempt employees back full-time?
Julie worked “crunching numbers” for the government from home for most of the pandemic, before recently returning to her desk in Whitehall two days a week. The civil servant, in her late 20s, says she was enjoying “the camaraderie of being back working with colleagues”. But then she found a message had been left on her desk while she was at a meeting with her bosses.
“Sorry you were out when I visited,” read the note left by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency. “I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon. With every good wish.”
Over a post-work grapefruit gin and tonic at the Two Chairmen, a Westminster pub favoured by civil servants, she says receiving Rees-Mogg’s note has made her reconsider her dream of a long career in public service. “I’d love to tell him where to shove his good wishes,” she says. “We’ve all been working our socks off throughout the pandemic and now he’s leaving notes implying we’re not working if we’re not at our desks.