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Shropshire Star comment: Back to work

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Back to work today.

The new normal in the office?

But not as normal. Nothing is normal at the moment, because as we all know these are not normal times and going back to work does not mean what it meant in normal times.

Many people have had to adapt to a new way of working because of the coronavirus epidemic. Hordes of office workers were heading back to the office today to find a different environment to that which they remember from those long-ago times in early March. Employers are complying with all the Government guidelines to ensure that the hubbub of the workplace does not become a breeding ground for a second wave of the pandemic.

Gatherings around the water cooler or the coffee machine to chat about this and that will be out. The watchwords will be – keep your distance, keep your personal space.

One way systems, designated entrances and exits, and keep everything clean – your desk, your hands, your environment.

For the moment, there can be no going back to the old ways. There is a feeling among some bosses that in fact there will never be a going back to the old ways because coronavirus has led to permanent changes in the way we work. It is as if the pandemic has accelerated the arrival of the future, and we have seen that the future works.

So we have discovered that there are many things which can be done from home, and working in this way can suit both employee and employer.

Add up the fuel costs of going to and from the office daily, and over a month it’s a huge amount. Getting rid of that is a bonus pay rise.

Technology like web conferencing has become commonplace.

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The next step, which would be to do away with offices entirely, is not with us, at least yet, and whether it would be socially desirable to have people condemned to permanent isolation at work is something to ponder.

However, what is important is the here and now, which is being defined by a terrible health threat.

Once we have steered a path safely through the crisis, we can start to grapple with the profound issues of how we live and work in the future.

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