Friday Dec 02, 2022

Britons return to work on first Monday after WFH order was axed – Daily Mail


Commuters headed back into the office today on the first Monday morning since working from home guidance was lifted after Boris Johnson told government departments to prepare staff for a return to the workplace.

Photographs showed the Jubilee line on the London Underground looking busy as the morning rush hour got underway at 7am, with passengers also packing platforms waiting for Overground trains at Canada Water station.

London Victoria and London Bridge also looked busy this morning – although this was a contrast to the empty streets of Westminster at a similar time which suggested many civil servants are continuing to work from home.

And congestion data today showed the level during the Monday morning rush hour in London was actually down on the same time last week, at 68 per cent for 8am to 9am today compared to 69 per cent last Monday.

The TomTom figures also showed today was the second quietest day on London’s roads in the past six weekdays, but it was roughly in line with the 69 per cent on December 6 – the last Monday before WFH guidance came in. 

Birmingham was also quieter today from 8am to 9am compared to last Monday – at 56 per cent today, down from 67 per cent. Congestion was, however, up week-on-week in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. 

The figures for the 8am to 9am slot in London were in contrast to the 7am and 8am period which was at 46 per cent today, up from 44 per cent at the same time last week and the highest on a Monday since December 6. 

It comes amid fresh attempts to end the working-from-home culture in Whitehall by ordering employees to get back to their desks after the Prime Minister ended the working from home guidance last Wednesday.

Union leaders have branded the proposals ‘reckless’, and senior officials vowed to keep a large number of their staff working from home permanently with only a tiny minority of civil servants at their desks. 

The final Plan B restrictions of Covid passports for larger venues and face masks in indoor areas will both be lifted on Thursday – but the latter will remain in place on Transport for London trains as a ‘condition of carriage’.

It means Tube passengers can no longer be fined for not wearing a mask, but can be denied entry. London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: ‘Just a reminder to those travelling back into the office today—it’s still mandatory to wear a mask on all TfL services unless you’re exempt. If you’re using public transport, respect the rules. Wear your mask.’ 

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph revealed concerns that the return to the office could be held up by reduced train services with 21 of the UK’s 28 rail operators on an ‘amended timetable’ or having halted their trains altogether.

Some 13 networks including Avanti West Coast, South Western Railway, CrossCounty and Great Western Railway are running reduced services ‘until further notice’ while the Gatwick Express is completely suspended.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT union, told of a ‘serious danger that temporary arrangements to cope with the pandemic are going to become ‘baked in and institutionalised’ if operators continue to cut services.

Also this morning, there was disruption on London Overground services due a fault on a train at Highbury …….


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