Finance

Staff may quit if firms don’t provide an office, Rishi Sunak warns

Companies should encourage workers to return to the office or they may “vote with their feet” and quit for a firm that can offer a physical presence, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said.

The chancellor has come out in support of meeting in an office over remote working, saying that employees are missing out on key skills by staying at home.

“You can’t beat the spontaneity, the team building, the culture that you create in a firm or an organisation from people actually spending physical time together,” Sunak said on 26 March.

He said staff are failing to gain from the experiences of “meetings that happen by chance” and “people riffing off each other” when at home, fostering a creativity drought.

READMood lighting, showers and lots of masks — The post-Covid City office is coming

Sunak said firms who opted to axe their offices altogether may face staff who “vote with their feet” and head to companies that offer in-person desks and benefits.

The government has yet to issue a mandate on when people should return to the offices en masse, despite MPs passing coronavirus legislation up until September on 25 March.

How do you get to know your peers, how do you learn the culture of an organisation, how do you get those mentors, which are important for your career development?

Some companies have chosen to ditch their physical office space in light of the working-from-home revolution, including banks such as Nationwide and Santander.

READNationwide tells 13,000 staff they can ‘work anywhere’ as it slashes office space

Sunak was speaking in an interview chaired by InHouse Communications, published ahead of the Conservative Party’s spring conference.

He added that a physical workplace was important for young people just entering the workforce, gaining access to mentors and understanding company culture.

“Imagine you’ve just left college or university — you start this job in a big company and you’re sitting at home on your own,” he said.

“How do you get to know your peers, how do you learn the culture of an organisation, how do you get those mentors, which are important for your career development?”

“You don’t need a study to tell you that you need to be in an office to get all of those goodies,” he added.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Nicolle

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