Since March, 2020, a large proportion of office workers have been working from home during the pandemic.
But with nearly all coronavirus restrictions now lifted in Wales, what are employers’ plans for their workers?
Wales moved to alert level zero on Saturday and it is the first time since the pandemic started that all businesses can now open and all legal limits on meeting people in indoor private spaces have been removed.
Read more:My mum, dad and brother died within seven days after catching Covid at a family dinner – they had all been scared by anti-vaccination misinformation
In Friday’s Welsh Government briefing, First Minister Mark Drakeford said employers would need to take risk assessments in order to safeguard workers and customers. He said these were a legal requirement for all businesses, employers and event organisers. He also said people should continue to work from home where possible.
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So when are employers planning on bringing workers back to the office or will working from home become the norm in the future for many?
This is what some of the big employers across Wales had to say:
Admiral has offices in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea
(Image: Mark Lewis)
“We continue to prioritise the safety of our people whether at home or in the office and the needs of our customers. We remain committed to following the Welsh Government advice and guidance.
“We are currently supporting a proportion of our people in returning to the office but remain cautious in our approach so we do not put the safety of our workforce at risk.
“Moving forward, our approach is to embrace a hybrid working model into the future, sharing the benefits of spending time together with the flexibility of working away from the office.
“We have a unique culture at Admiral and will ensure that continues to thrive, encouraging our people to spend time with their teams to work collaboratively, communicate openly and have fun, while also balancing their enjoyment, wellbeing and work-life balance with the opportunity to work from home.
“We are taking a collaborative approach with input from across the business, giving our people choice and flexibility on how and where they want to work. All of this while testing and learning to ensure we continue our path to being a leading smart working business.”
An aerial view of the DVLA building in Clase, Swansea
“We’re reviewing the latest Welsh Government advice before making any changes. Those who can carry out their role from home are continuing to do so, while those who can’t carry out their usual duties from home are working on site.”
A spokesperson for HMRC, which has an office in Cardiff, said: “We continue to follow government guidance in nations and regions of the United Kingdom. In line with the advice of the Welsh Government, HMRC colleagues should continue to work from home where possible.
“A small proportion of employees have continued to work in the office during the pandemic, for example because they are unable to work from home or for wellbeing reasons.
“All social distancing and safety measures remain in place in our buildings while we review government’s guidance about workplaces.”
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BT employs a large number of people in Wales, including in Swansea and Cardiff. Here are some of the points on BT’s approach to returning some colleagues to their workplaces.
- We’re continuing to work through our plans for a phased return which may mean some colleagues come back sooner and others will continue to work from home for now.
- We’re adopting a hybrid approach to work (internally we’re calling it ‘Smart Working’).
- The new approach will provide flexibility to choose as a team how and where colleagues work depending on their team’s and their customers’ requirements.
- We still see our shared workplaces as very much central to BT’s future. They will be places where colleagues come together to connect, collaborate and share creative ideas.
“We’re continuing to develop our plans for staff in line with current Welsh Government guidance, which states risk assessments have to be prepared to identify any necessary changes to office working arrangements prior to returning.”
HSBC has offices in Swansea. A statement said: “In line with government guidance, we are advising colleagues based in Wales to continue to work from home where this is possible.
“Across the UK, we are taking an orderly, progressive approach to re-opening our offices to combine safety with flexibility and choice as restrictions end. We are reorganising our offices to support our transition to a new hybrid way of working – more flexible, collaboration space for teams, bookable desks, and new technology to support colleagues.
“Our responsibility for health and safety as an employer is always paramount and so, in addition to government guidance, we continue to closely watch conditions throughout the UK and to take advice from our medical advisers.”
“Since Wales moved to Alert Level Zero on August 7, the position is still for staff to work from home where this is possible.”
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