Boosterism is back. A week after the lows of Blue Monday we’re being encouraged to forget our woes and roll our sleeves up for Bounce Back Monday.
With the dropping of Plan B restrictions – a move that might have attracted a lot more critical analysis considering 330 people died with Covid on 20 January – it’s now all systems go according to Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC. He told the Evening Standard: “After the last lockdown restrictions were lifted, it took us two months to get back to 80% capacity.
“We’re expecting a faster bounce back now – people know the drill – and this is great news for small businesses and city centres that rely on office workers.”
Great news indeed.
Large city employers Goldman Sachs, Citi, PwC, HSBC, KPMG, Fidelity and Standard Chartered are among the firms thought to have encouraged staff back to the office in recent days. Most are asking employees to start coming in from next week, claims the Standard. What with our current national mood oscillations Manic Monday may have been a better buzzword.
Will the office cardigan be enough?
These mighty City institutions may be missing something, however; there may not be a deluge of now maskless commuters (masked if you read Transport for London’s guidance, maskless if you read UK government guidance) joyously bouncing into offices on 24 January. Last week we reported that people were shivering at home and anxious to return to the sub-tropical climes of their temperature-controlled offices. But now we learn that this twist on “turning blue Monday” is absolutely not the case. A survey of 1,000 no doubt rather thin employees has revealed that the fear of feeling chilly in the office is forcing people to stay put in their expensively heated homes.
And guess what? The data suggests gender could play a part in how warm you feel!
This shocking revelation takes us into obviously dangerous territory and one in which misinformation, biased observations and subjective theories lurk, but Personnel Today regrets to inform readers that, according to the Meridian Interiors survey, “women typically produce less body heat than men so they’re more likely to feel chilly in the office”.
For this reason, of course, women are unable to commute during winter in northern climes [sarcastic joke – ed]. Someone better tell Kevin Ellis not to expect quite so many returnees.
Personnel Today, meanwhile, although wishing to remain open-minded about the survey’s validity, would like to query this particular claim: “Surprisingly, workers in Scotland were the least likely to feel chilly.” Show me the science, as someone once said.
And how strange that this new take on the Venus and Mars theory of gender should emerge in the week that Preet Chandi – who is not Scottish – became the first woman of colour to complete a solo crossing on Antarctica, enduring temperatures of -50C as she skied 700 miles across the continent in 40 days.
This may have been impossible had she been Welsh, or from London, as Meridian Interiors informs us that residents in Wales are the most likely to feel cold all the time, followed by workers in the UK capital.
Perhaps it’s time to accept once and for all that people prefer flexibility as to where they work. Jobs website Indeed with the OECD providing back-up statistics has found that the UK has seen one of the biggest rises of any country in the share of vacancies offering remote work. In the study of 20 countries, the UK ranked fifth on the list, behind Spain, Ireland, Canada and Poland for the biggest rise in the share of posts mentioning remote work.
Pawel Adrjan, head of EMEA research at Indeed, said: “Far from seeing the trend reverse as lockdown restrictions eased, our research shows that searches for remote work have remained high throughout the year and have just hit an all-time high, suggesting that many jobseekers want to continue working remotely.”
Perhaps it’s time to accept once and for all that people prefer flexibility as to where they work”
He points out that opportunities are not evenly spread across the labour market, with higher-paying, non-client facing roles seeing the biggest increases in remote working opportunities. “Employers will need to assess how equitable their WFH policy is,” he adds.
Interestingly, Indeed’s figures show that last year, interest in remote work remained well above pre-pandemic levels, even during periods when lockdown restrictions were eased and people no longer needed to work from home – suggesting that a lasting shift in workers’ preferences is underway.
Bounce Back Monday – a phrase that in any case suffers from its rather Boris-ian tone – may need a rebrand.