The return to offices has been a gradual one this year as Coronavirus restrictions have gradually been eased, with even the ‘freedom day’ lifting not seeing a full return.
However, another reason some workplaces are far from full is the ongoing furlough scheme. This has ensured that some people remain at home and might have caused office managers to hold back on the purchase of an ionized water filter for their workplace cooler.
All that could change very soon, for we are now into September and this will be the final month before the furlough scheme is wrapped up, hopefully for good – or perhaps until another pandemic a century from now.
The numbers on furlough have already plunged, although a couple of million were still on the scheme at the start of July before the final unlocking occurred. For those firms who have not yet been able to get everyone back to work, some major decisions will have to be reached.
While it may be the case that your workplace will not bring everyone back; some might work well from home, prefer this option if it is available and practical, and even benefit from it if they have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid.
Nonetheless, the more people that do come back to your office, the more people are likely to use the water cooler. Because the device will keep the water isolated from outside germs until it is dispensed, it will be a safe item to use as you continue to exercise a degree of due caution in the office.
By now, decisions should be in place about the way forward post-furlough, not least because firms who do decide to lay staff off need to carry out the redundancy process correctly, including the provision of three months’ notice.
While some firms are making decisions of this kind, many more are adding to payrolls. According to the latest Labour Force Survey, there were 953,000 job vacancies in the May to July period, the highest quarterly figure on record.