The Daily Telegraph

‘Bosses are in limbo. They can’t make plans’

G– iles Fuchs, 56, runs a serviced offices company

- As told to Luke Mintz

However hard you try, it’s difficult to replicate the buzz of an office. That’s what I’ve found over the past 16 months, as I’ve tried to manage my 60 employees.

Conducting a fluid staff meeting over Zoom? Virtually impossible. One person speaks; then another person tries to interrupt, but their sound is slightly out of sync with the first speaker. Chaos descends. And you don’t get any of those all-important “water cooler moments”

– from which a brilliant idea might emerge.

The biggest losers were our junior staff, many of whom live in cramped city houseshare­s. Normally, they can watch and learn from their more senior colleagues. At home, not so much.

We urged our staff back to the office last June, as soon as we were allowed, and the vast majority were keen to return. But I’ve seen from my line of work – I run Office Space in Town, a serviced workspace firm – that many bosses are holding back. They’re frightened of legal action if an employee catches Covid, and hesitant to make any long-term decisions in case government advice changes yet again.

In the long-term, there’s a cultural shift towards hybrid working. Bosses can’t stop it, and they’d be foolish to try. But after yesterday’s announceme­nt, bosses are in limbo. They can’t plan for the future, or even rearrange their workspace to adjust for hybrid working. Employers and employees are unable to implement plans.

Office life needs to return in some form. The water cooler shouldn’t go into storage just yet.

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