Covid-19: When will most workers return to the office?

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Ten post dostępny jest także w języku: polski

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected office working patterns, with many companies opting to work remotely. However, as the percentage of vaccinated people increases, so does the number of employees who choose to work from home instead of in the office. In Warsaw, the turnout of office workers was as high as 45%, the third-best result compared to other European countries.

According to the Europewide ranking “Cushman & Wakefield Reasercher’s interpolation of Google Mobility Data, September 9, 2021”, more than 80% of office workers in Prague have opted for stationary work and this is the highest result in Europe. Second on the list was Hamburg, where 60% of employees decided to work from an office. Third place with a result of 45% went to Warsaw.

Working in an office during a pandemic

Workers’ attendance in offices changed depending on the introduction of sanitary restrictions and individual company decisions. With the end of the holiday season and the return of students to school, an increase in employee attendance was observed. This was particularly noticeable on public transport, with the London Underground seeing its highest passenger numbers at the beginning of September this year since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of people using bus transport also increased, with a jump of 40%.

Office jobs not just for the vaccinated?

More and more companies expect employees to start returning to the office. According to a Chartered Management Institute survey of more than 1,000 managers in the UK, companies that manage assets or are law firms or insurance companies want their employees to come into the office for two or three days a week. However, many companies make the return to office work dependent on the percentage of people vaccinated. It is worth mentioning, however, that in most European companies, employers do not require vaccinations because of the European Convention on Human Rights, which gives every person the right to decide about their personal life.

However, some countries have decided to introduce mandatory vaccination in those sectors that are most exposed to the virus and in places where the possibility of increased coronavirus transmission occurs. In the UK, France and Greece, mandatory vaccination applies to healthcare workers, and in Italy, the legislation has been extended to most workers in the public and private sectors.

However, vaccination is encouraged by national governments by providing facilities for those who have been vaccinated and by requiring tests to confirm a negative result for coronavirus among those who choose not to receive the vaccine. In France, it is only possible to enter a café, restaurant or cinema if you show the appropriate health certificate. The situation is similar in Germany, where unvaccinated people cannot enter buildings and indoor events without showing a negative test result. In addition, free testing for Covid-19 can no longer be used in Germany.

When will workers return to offices?

A complete return to offices is not possible due to changing working patterns and the proportion of employees who used remote working even before the pandemic. Unless new restrictions are introduced, employee attendance in the office will trend upwards.

Although the timing of the return to the office varies depending on the country’s vaccination programme, the possibility of receiving a third booster dose and the specifics of the industry, January 2022 can be taken as the target date. Tenants in the financial services, banking and legal sectors are forecast to increase their office presence by the end of 2021, while a large number of technology companies will decide to have employees return in early 2022.

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