Returning to work is the easiest way to stem “economic carnage”

Returning to work
As a plumber, the last thing I’d want to find from a tap or heating system is a ‘trickle-down’ effect, but when it comes to economics it’s a necessity for the country’s recovery.

We all know that COVID caused an emergency stop for many businesses and led to lots of others seeing a fall in activity.  Only now are we starting to see an upturn across the economy, but it is slower than it could be as a result of being held back by the reluctance of many to do their bit.

The furlough scheme, although the right thing to do at the start of the pandemic, and particularly important for sectors that had to close completely, has been strung out for too long and created a stupid culture where people would rather receive government cash for staying at home instead of working.

Of course, that doesn’t apply to everyone, there are others who are afraid that their workplace isn’t safe, but as long as their employer had put in all the right hygiene and social distancing measures they shouldn’t worry.

And then, there are those who are enjoying working from home and don’t want to get back to offices.  They’ve loved working from their dining rooms and gardens in their pyjamas; but now it’s time to return to the office.

Some office-based businesses are unwilling to have difficult conversations with these staff, but the wider economic health of our country demands that we get back into the office.

If you follow the money you can see that a so-called ‘K-shaped’ recovery is entirely possible if bosses of office-based businesses do not grapple with the issue soon.

The theory of the “k-shaped’ recovery goes something like this: professional people who have the ability to work from home represent the uptick of the ‘K’, the people whose jobs require them to be present in the workplace where trade is falling and potentially cause them to lose their jobs, represents the downtick of the ‘K’.

Quite simply, there is a ‘trickle down’ knock-on effect of people going back to the office.

For every person who returns to the office there are workers in transport hubs or petrol stations that service their journey to work, workers in newsagents, sandwich shops and coffee shops, that inform and feed them on the journey, workers cleaning and maintaining their premises, office supply companies…the list of people who depend on millions of regular financial transactions by office-based workers is endless.

There is some evidence of this knock-on effect as a result of the Chancellor’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.  Not only is it boosting restaurants, but also the businesses located around them.

According to a report in The Sun, contactless payment operator SumUp have said that transactions were up 16.4% in cafes and restaurants on the first Monday of the scheme compared to the previous week.  At the same time online bookings operator OpenTable told the newspaper that bookings were up 10%.

As a result, according to retail specialist Springboard, the discount meal deal was helping the high street with visits to shops by 3pm on Monday 3 August nearly 30% higher than the Monday before.

This same momentum has to be built by commuters because, now they can return, it is frustrating that some businesses and workers are choosing to play a diminished part in the post-lockdown recovery from home.

So for those still home working consider this; we have COVID secure rules for offices and other places of work, we have mask wearing rules for transport, shops and other communal locations, society is willing to sanitise and cover up for you, it is willing to track and trace for you, it is willing to self-isolate for you.

The question is, are you willing to return and help stem the economic carnage being inflicted on those who rely on your trade?

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