UK government announce that office workers should work from home “for perhaps six months”

The latest announcement from the UK government in response to Covid-19 is that those that can work from home should as cases rise. This comes just a month after the government was actively encouraging people to get back to their workplaces. The back to work message has now changed in ‘“response to the spread of the virus.” stated by Michael Gove in an interview by the BBC, with the hope being that by taking this action now it will reduce the need for stricter measures later. 

Only those that can work from home, such as office workers, are being encouraged to currently. If your job requires you to be in the workplace and there are Covid safety measures in place, the government’s advice is to keep going in for now. But, if the new restrictions put into place do not work, this could change. This has sparked fears over a second lockdown and £50bn has already been wiped off the UK stocks due to the uncertainty.


Prime minister announces new restrictions will last six months

On 22nd September, Boris Johnson made an announcement in the House of Commons stating that “We’ve reached a perilous turning point” as the Covid cases in this country have continued to rise, and the potential of tens of thousands of daily cases in October looms over us. The reproduction rate is now at four and the aim of the government is to take action now with their “one stitch in time saves nine” approach to get this rate back down to one.

Although Boris explained that this isn’t a full return to lockdown – schools, colleges and universities will remain open and businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way, some measures will be introduced to minimise the spread of the virus.

“We are once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so,” Boris announced and from Thursday pubs, bars and restaurants will need to shut at 10 pm. He also announced more rules around wearing face coverings and that Covid-secure guidelines in sectors like retail and leisure will become a legal obligation – with businesses at risk of forced closure if they do not comply. New rules around social gatherings, funerals and weddings have also been announced to limit large gatherings of people. Fines have also become more steep – such as a £200 fine (up from £100) for not wearing a face mask in required places.

Boris Johnson warned of stricter measures if the restrictions announced do not work and said that: “The restrictions I’ve announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.”


Mixed feelings around working remotely full time

After the first lockdown that began in March, many of us will be familiar with the shift to our routines and getting used to working remotely full time. Initially, people reacted to this shift very well and it was noted that productivity maintained high. But for many, the positive impacts of working from home full time began to dip, with the lack of social interaction, Zoom fatigue, personal distractions and a lack of space at home. For most people, a balance between working from home and office-based work is desirable. In fact, in a survey by Buffer more than half of the respondents that work from home full time said they wouldn’t recommend it. A balance of office and remote working offers increased flexibility, reduced commute time and better work-life balance but with the benefits of working with colleagues face-to-face and the tools, equipment and space an office provides. However, it looks like for now office workers will need to do their bit to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

So, as office workers brace for working from home full time for the next six months, what can employers do to support their workforce?

5 tips for employers on how to support a remote team

Introduce a remote working stipend

Providing employees with a monthly stipend that they can spend on home office supplies is a great way to ensure that employees have the tools they need to work from home and that they are comfortable doing so. Ergonomic office chairs, headphones and stationary are typical types of requests from employees and you may also want to offer an allowance to cover internet expenses and phone costs.

Introduce a meeting-free day

Introducing one meeting-free day a week is a great way to reduce Zoom fatigue and give employees a chance to focus on projects without interruption. Video conferencing makes it harder to pick up on non-verbal cues and silences/delays create anxiety. When you’re on camera, you’re also hyper-aware of being watched like being on a stage, taking up more energy than face-to-face interactions. A meeting-free day is arguably a good idea even for full time office-based work as it gives employees an opportunity to focus on a big project without the distraction. Meeting-free days can greatly increase productivity. An article by Tech Republic stated that meetings interrupting your work day can result in it taking “up to 40% longer to complete the same tasks.”

Encourage work-life balance

In a report by Buffer, one of the biggest challenges of working from home is the inability to unplug. Working from home full time blurs the boundaries between work and private life, especially with many working in their living rooms or bedrooms. Encourage work-life balance by helping employees get into a routine. Don’t reward habits like working late and provide wellness activities like a 6 pm wind-down virtual yoga class.

Create a new ‘hub’

The office was typically the hub, the space where employees knew they could build connections, have meetings, speak to HR, or catch up on the latest company news. With office-based workers being told to work from home for the next six months and the future of work becoming increasingly distributed and flexible in the long run, consider creating a new hub. What we mean by this is to develop a space where employees can access these things, but in a way that works for distributed and flexible teams. Consider launching a company app for employees, where they can tap into company news, see a calendar of events they can join, connect with colleagues and access company perks.

Establish daily check-ins

Whether it be a one-on-one or daily team calls, establishing daily check-ins is a great way to introduce structure and reduce the loneliness of working from home. You can use it as an opportunity to discuss daily tasks, a chance for them to ask any questions and to voice any concerns. It’s also a great way to keep a pulse on your employees’ mental health and wellbeing. 


District Tech is a leading provider of workplace experience software. Connect amenities and services, provide content and news, and create a sense of community for distributed and flexible employees. 

Our packages include our affordable plug & play platform which benefits from our core functionalities and our premium package which offers the ability to white-label and integrate with third-party software. 

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