LONDON: UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has advised young workers to look at returning to offices as the government's COVID-19 lockdown related work from home guidance came to a close last month. The senior Indian-origin Cabinet minister reflected on his own early career with investment bank Goldman Sachs, which he said benefitted from interactions with mentors in the workplace.
In an interview with LinkedIn News, the finance minister said he doubts he would have done as well in his professional life if he had started out virtually with currently popular tech platforms such as Zoom. "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. That's why I think for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable," said Sunak.
The British government is keen for businesses to use the current summer break period to work on getting staff back into the offices, with most companies adopting a mixed bag approach to work from home.
The recommendation is for a gradual return to work in England since restrictions were lifted on July 19, with the Scottish government wanting people to keep working at home until at least August 9, where possible.
Sunak said the government would "expect and recommend" a gradual return to office working this summer "in keeping with everything else that we are doing, it's been gradual, it's cautious, it's careful". "I've spoken previously about young people in particular benefiting from being in offices: it was really beneficial to me when I was starting out in my career. The mentors that I found when I first started my job, I still talk to and they've been helpful to me all through my career even after we've gone in different ways," Sunak said in the interview.
Figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that more people are working from the office this month than they were last month. However, ministers are worried about financial hubs and other business centres being impacted by the work from home culture necessitated by the pandemic lockdown.
"I am confident that with the pace of the economic reopening and people's hiring intentions, the vast majority of people will be able to come back to work. But not everyone will be able to...I said at the start I wouldn't be able to save every job, I don't think any Chancellor could," added Sunak.