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Returning to offices will benefit young people, says Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is keen for young people to return to the office, arguing working from home can have a negative impact on their careers.

Sunak told LinkedIn News yesterday (2 August) that being in the office is beneficial for a young person at the start of their career.

He said: “I have spoken previously about young people in particular benefiting from being in offices.

"I doubt I would have had those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship or my first bit of my career over Teams and Zoom."

He added: “That's why I think, for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable.”

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Government guidance changed last month (19 July) and employees are no longer instructed to work from home in England.

The guidance now states that it expects and recommends a gradual return to offices over the summer.

Speaking to HR magazine, Martin Tiplady, CEO of Chameleon People Solutions, said he agreed with the chancellor’s comments.

He said: “An important part of office work, far more important than many are giving credit for, is the interaction and exchange with one’s colleagues.

“And we are, if we do not get back to something near to attendance at work, creating a new and unintended culture that we might learn to regret.”

Tiplady said the need to interact, speak, argue and represent a company are all important aspects of growing in the job and building confidence.

“If that changes, it will inevitably affect careers and promotion prospects," he said.

However, Tiplady said organisations should not rule out hybrid working post-pandemic.

Mark Sweeney, regional vice president, UK and Ireland at Citrix, said the past 12 months have proven that with the right technology in place, individuals do not need to go to work to be productive.

He said: "Recent Citrix research found that 52% of European office workers would like a hybrid work model where to work each day.

"Now that stay-home restrictions have eased and offices can safely reopen, it should be the responsibility of business leaders to ensure employees have the choice in whether they return to the office, or not."

Sweeney argued this choice has an impact way beyond the bottom line.

"Company cultures will be affected, so businesses will need to embrace the hybrid model of work as part of this new working model, allowing remote and on-site workers to co-exist happily.

"Some individuals will not want to go to back the office, for a variety of reasons. As leaders, we need to create a culture that ensures people working remotely some or all of the time, are treated the same as those who go back to the office," he said.