When “back to work” could mean staying home

by | Mar 5, 2021

With Spring officially now with us, significant progress with Covid-19 vaccinations in the UK and now a clearer idea 1 of when we can share our outside spaces with others, it seems that businesses are (once again) able to make plans. We are not suggesting that everything has stood still, just that for so many, it has been difficult to put timelines around their progress. The time seems right to make concrete plans. Are you ready to galvanise your workforce and get them back to work, whatever that means?

With some City institutions continuing to support remote working, others are reiterating the importance of getting their people back to the office at the first opportunity. We read2 that David Solomon, CEO of investment bank Goldman Sachs supports an office-based approach to collaboration, innovation and mentorship. Home-working is not the new normal for Goldman Sachs.

We predict some inevitable and challenging discussions associated with individual wellbeing and corporate values on the one hand, with maintaining control and cost implications on the other. It seems that some tensions in the Boardroom are unavoidable. As always, the New Horizons Careers team is here to help with business decision-making and employee support.

There are many critical employment-related decisions to be made. There is even talk of insufficient talent to fill hospitality vacancies later this Summer, with many young people pursuing other careers. It is time to remind ourselves of what we know:

  • The job support scheme is in place until 30th September 20213
  • Unemployment4 is running at 5.1% (aged 16 and over)
  • Around 700,000 job losses in the past 12 months
  • There are still 4.7 million employments furloughed5

We have been considering how best to assist organisations to support their people through this continuing employment uncertainty. Our sense is that many of the individuals contacting us are unsure about their own futures, yet they present the case on behalf of their employers with absolute clarity and professionalism.

We are frequently engaged in conversations with existing or potential clients about scenario planning and likely outcomes . We have included the full range of, “What if…” questions, as you might imagine. Not least, “What if going back to work, actually means homeworking?” and, “What if your managers aren’t that experienced in managing remote teams?”. We have summarised the scenarios currently being faced by employers under five categories to keep our discussion here on track.

All or the vast majority of furloughed employments reinstated simultaneously

Depending on the sector / industry, some organisations have significant numbers of employments currently furloughed, which are highly likely to be restored simultaneously.  For people who have been at home without work (furloughed employment) and tried to do whatever they could to create positivity for themselves, their families or their friends, coming back to work may be a shock.  The desired work location may add a further dimension of challenge.  We can work with your managers and their teams to reorientate themselves as well as their careers.

All or the vast majority of furloughed employments reinstated gradually

Clearly if your people are returning to work gradually, there will be more time to consider their wellbeing and other needs on a more individual basis.  Once again, work location and priority of return are most likely to impact decision-making.  We can support your managers as they come to terms with new ways of working, rebuilding confidence and inspiring trust.

Around 50% furloughed employments likely to be reinstated

Restructures, changing skills needs and financial pressures (or a combination of all three) are frequently the catalysts for redundancy and job loss.  We are most often associated with supporting organisations and individuals through business transformation and career transition.  In this scenario we can partner managers assessing people’s needs as they prepare for Return to work and Supported reorientation, or Redundancy and Outplacement support.

The majority (or all) of furloughed employments likely to conclude as redundancies

In this scenario there will be mounting uncertainty as your colleagues may be heavily involved in concluding the business at the same time as consulting on redundancy.  All this in addition to planning essential career transition and outplacement support.

A high degree of uncertainty around furloughed employments

We are always happy to offer our services to any employers finding themselves in the fifth category.  We frequently become the sounding boards or the facilitators, offering independent / impartial support to business leaders and their HR advisors.

The New Horizons Careers experience portfolio

In addition to our Outplacement support and Career Transition programmes, New Horizons Careers creates bespoke coaching programmes to support corporate change, as well as workplace agility and remote working.  We can coach your managers to manage at distance and manage uncertainty by putting together a tailored programme which supports your organisation needs.  We will help your managers who are staying to adapt to new ways of working and your people who are leaving with their career transition.

Why not get in touch for a chat in confidence? Call us on 0044 (0)207 831 9843 to let us know how we can help, or send us a message now.


1 COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021
2 Personnel Today, February 2021
3 Budget speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, March 2021
4 Office for National Statistics, February 2021
5 HMRC, Official Statistics, February 2021)