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Shift to home working ‘turbo-charged’ by lockdown, says MP Dan Poulter

PUBLISHED: 15:37 29 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:30 29 August 2020

Dr Dan Poulter said lockdown had

Dr Dan Poulter said lockdown had "turbo-charged" a process already under way. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Workers will not return en masse to offices - but moves to encourage some staff to return to towns and cities are welcome, Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter has said.

The MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich – which includes residential parts of the county town, along with market towns and villages on the Norfolk border – said lockdown had “turbo-charged” a trend already happening long before coronavirus.

He said: “We had already started to see a trend for people to work from home – that comes with new technology and improved broadband.

“What lockdown has done is to turbo-charge the process, to accelerate things so businesses and employees have adapted quicker than they would otherwise.

“Having said that, I think it is right to encourage people who do want to return to the workplace to do so – working at home doesn’t suit everyone and for many jobs it is simply not an option.”

Dr Poulter said many businesses would continue to face challenges with social distancing and could not bring all their staff back, even if they wanted to.

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He said: “I know many people are happy about working at home, and their employers are happy to continue with that.

“One issue I know may be faced is that companies might want to get a mixture of staff in, so younger people can be mentored by their more senior colleagues – but that is a matter for employers.”

MORE: Ipswich Central’s plea for workers to go back to offices hit by social distancing

Supporting town and city centre businesses like shops, cafes, and takeaways was a consideration – but Dr Poulter said the changes could work two ways.

“I know there are problems in big cities like London with the lack of city workers, but in towns and residential areas where there are more people about things are rather different,” he said.

“I know from when I went into Framlingham a few days ago that there are more people shopping there and using the town centre during the week than was the case before lockdown – because they’re working from home and going down to the shops.

“And then there are new jobs in deliveries because of more online shopping.

“As I said, these changes had already started before the lockdown, but that has accelerated the process – turbo-charged the shift in work practices.”


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