Three big questions for your working life in the wake of Covid

Smart Money: When, and how, will those working from home go back to work?

Is the three-days-in, two-days-out model the way forward, or just company bosses and office owners trying to evolve to a model which does not shift too far away from the past? Photograph: iStock

Is the three-days-in, two-days-out model the way forward, or just company bosses and office owners trying to evolve to a model which does not shift too far away from the past? Photograph: iStock

The pandemic keeps changing our expectations for the future of the way we work. A few weeks ago, for example, those who have been working from home may have anticipated a return to the office in September. Now, this looks in question due to the Delta variant. And, as the pandemic drags on, the huge gap between incomes and opportunities in the sectors affected, and the rest, continues to widen. Here are the some of the questions which lie ahead.

1. When, and how, will those working from home go back to work?

The Delta variant could delay the plans of many employers for a September office reopening. Much will depend on trends in the meantime, of course. But with cases rising and the vaccination programme not yet fully complete, big employers are waiting and seeing. One said he hoped that staff could resume in the office in September: “If they can have a pint or a meal inside on a Friday night, they can be in the office on Monday.” However, he said the return would be slowly phased in with distancing guidelines and staff working on a hybrid model. Some other big companies who have not yet committed to a firm date have said they will wait and see, with some expecting a delay into October or beyond. Many, too, will wait to see whether the Government guidance to work from home is changed or extended in September. A “ big bang” return to the office in early autumn now looks unlikely. And it is a measure of the uncertainty caused by Delta that it is still unclear what to expect, beyond hoping that full vaccination does allow a gradual return.

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