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05th Oct 2021

Get back to work or ‘risk being gossiped about’, Boris Johnson says

Ava Evans

‘How can you learn a job on Zoom?

Young people must return to the office or risk being gossiped about by their colleagues, the Prime Minister has said.

Boris Johnson’s comments come after Conservative MP Jake Berry on Monday urged civil servants to return to the office, joking at a Tory conference fringe event: “We have to end the Civil Service ‘woke-ing’ from home – sorry, I mean working from home, but let’s be honest, it often is woke-ing.”

Berry, chairman of the Northern Research Group of Conservative MPs and former Northern Powerhouse minister, added at the TaxPayer’s Alliance event that we must “move away from this ‘I want to work from home’ attitude if we want a productive Britain”.

The PM echoed Berry’s sentiment on Tuesday, telling Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that young people will “lose out’ if they don’t make a swift return” to work.

However, he admitted not all his staff had returned to their desks. Chancellor Rishi Sunak was also unable to give a conclusive figure for the Treasury, revealing his office operates a “hot-desking policy”.

Whitehall ended their ‘work from home’ guidance on July 19th, yet job adverts posted by the Treasury in September revealed Civil Servants would be entitled to work from home 2-3 days a week, permanently.

Johnson takes the main stage at Conservative Conference on Wednesday, where he is expected to urge workers to “get back into the office”.

A Government source told the Daily Mail Johnson believes face-to-face working is “critical for the training and development of young people”, adding “How can you learn a job on zoom?”

In the Summer, Labour called for flexible working to become “the new normal”. Deputy leader Angela Rayner ​​said work should “fit around people’s lives, instead of dictating their lives”.

Research from Nationwide and Ipsos MORI in March revealed that many young people wish to work from home for 3 days a week or more post-pandemic, but also need face-to-face time with colleagues to carry out their work.

But a Deloitte survey earlier this year showed 58 per cent of 16- to 34-year-olds found working from home challenging, compared to an average of 44 per cent for all homeworkers.

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