PM Boris Johnson said Britain is not facing a new age of remote working.
In a video message today Johnson said British people would be “consumed again” by wanting to meet people in person once the economy reopens, and that this would have clear benefits for business.
He added people will be commuting to city and town centres and holding face-to-face meetings within a “few short months”.
This message comes alongside the government’s announcement of plans to launch a mass-testing scheme as people return to work as part of getting the country to “a new normal”.
Although people are being asked to work from home until 21 June, ministers hope that date can be pushed forward.
The PM has not given a clear date for an end to working from home.
Under these new plans, people who do have to go to work in person, such as those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, will be tested twice a week for Covid-19.
Johnson made this statement at a Network Rail conference.
He said: “I know that some people may imagine that all conferences are going to be held like this over Zoom or Teams or what have you, and we’ve got to prepare for a new age in which people don’t move around. I want you to know I don’t believe it. Not for a moment.”
On Monday Johnson also said he did not believe the Covid-19 pandemic would lead to a fundamental change to life in big cities. “I think that London – and our great cities – will be full of buzz, and life and excitement again, provided people have confidence about coming back,” he added.
However, the PM is taking a more cautious approach than last summer when the government encouraged people to go back to work in person, before a rise in infection rates in the autumn.
Johnson’s comments reflect a statement made by Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon yesterday, who called working from home an “aberration.”
“This is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal,” Solomon said at a Credit Suisse conference.
Barclays boss Jes Staley last month also said working from home was “not sustainable” for the bank as it impacted on collaboration and company culture.