Many of us around the UK have now become thoroughly accustomed to working from home since the pandemic’s arrival essentially necessitated this change. However, when exactly can you expect your working practices to go “back to normal” now that the vaccine rollout is continuing apace?
In truth, it depends on the sector in which you work. Many schools and colleges around the country have already reopened – but, for people working outside the education sector, the picture is more complex. Here’s how you can expect to settle back into your old ways of working over the next few months.
How the UK’s lockdown is set to be winded down
While precise lockdown rules – and, thus, how those rules are set to be eased – differ between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, one general rule is that the lockdown should be phased out gradually, and in separate, distinct stages. This can be seen particularly clearly with England’s roadmap…
From 29 March, England’s outdoor sports facilities – including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts – will reopen, while all of England’s shops currently closed will be allowed to reopen no earlier than 12 April.
At that time, if all goes to plan, a range of other businesses that usually rely on face-to-face contact – like gyms, spas, hairdressers, beauty salons, zoos and theme parks – will also reopen. Later, but no sooner than 17 May, even more workplaces – like museums, theatres and cinemas – will follow suit.
Nightclubs will finally be permitted to reopen on or after 21 June – and all of that is just what is planned in England, though Scotland has also set out its own roadmap of lockdown-loosening for the coming months. You can see an informative overview of that roadmap on the BBC News site.
When will the UK’s office workers finally return to… well, offices?
In England, it won’t be until at least 21 June that all legal limits on social contact are finally lifted – at which point, there will theoretically be nothing stopping usually office-bound workers from, well, once again working in the offices to which they would customarily commute day after day in pre-pandemic times.
Currently, the government is ordering that people continue to work from home where possible – guidance that isn’t due to be reviewed before 21 June, says The Spectator.
At a rail industry conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently dismissed the notion that working from home could remain commonplace after the pandemic. In words quoted by The Express, he insisted that, if the UK reopens its economy in “a few short months” as currently planned, “the British people will be consumed once again with their desire for the genuine face-to-face meeting”.
Fortunately, various digital tools for the workplace – including cybersecurity essentials provided by companies like Wandera – can easily be transferred from the home office to the “normal” office. This means that, ultimately, there’s no time like the present for companies to invest in tools like these – tools that aren’t left tethered to just one physical workplace, home-based or otherwise.