Workers must get back to offices to help economy recover, says hiring boss

Britain’s economy will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until workers are able to return safely to offices, the founder of a recruitment group has warned.

Robert Walters, chief executive of the eponymous firm, told the PA news agency it is “essential” for his industry and other sectors to be able to return to their normal workplaces instead of remote working.

He said Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £30 billion Plan for Jobs announced in his summer statement on Wednesday is an “encouraging move” for Britain’s battered employment market.

But he said many companies across a raft of sectors cannot get return to full strength with a remote workforce, especially people businesses like recruiters and advertising agencies.

Mr Walters said: “I think it’s essential, and we have heard it from so many different people, from bankers to all sectors.

“We need to get back to the ways things were.”

But he admitted that the biggest challenge is transport and ensuring that employees are safe when travelling to and from workplaces, with the coronavirus very much still in circulation.

Mr Walters said hiring activity is rebounding strongly in countries where offices are reopening, such as in some areas of Asia where this has driven a record result for the group’s teams in recent months.

His comments came as a raft of firms have said they will shift more permanently towards remote working since the lockdown forced employees to work from home.

“There are firms that have said they will change things going forward … and it may work for them, but it won’t for us,” he said.