Rishi Sunak has faced some criticism for encouraging people to return to their offices as soon as coronavirus restrictions are lifted on 19 July.
The chancellor told The Telegraph: “I think for young people, especially that ability to be in your office, be in your workplace and learn from others more directly, is something that’s really important and I look forward to us slowly getting back to that.”
In doing so he sparked backlash. Some who believe the restrictions are being lifted too soon expressed concerns about people mixing inside without masks:
Rishi Sunak tells people to go back to the office, but this time without masks.— Sarah Hurst (@Sarah Hurst) 1625780826
Others thought it would cause infections to rise - over 32,000 cases were reported today.
@PoliticsForAlI @Telegraph With 100,000 daily infections? Not likely. You need to keep as many people away from the… https://t.co/8qqyuf1PGK— JP McQueen 🇪🇺 (@JP McQueen 🇪🇺) 1625777873
@PoliticsForAlI @Telegraph Anyone who returns to an office before infection rates are back to very low levels shoul… https://t.co/GC14nPVka0— Ian (@Ian) 1625777891
@hendopolis @RishiSunak Makes no sense on many levels.Covid rising exponentially, WFH much better for environment,… https://t.co/2r3LVRJJjg— KS (@KS) 1625816143
Another point people made was that offices could work with hybrid models with some people working from home and others in the office on a flexible basis:
@PoliticsForAlI @Telegraph One day a week maybe but only if it is really crucial for say specific team building/ cr… https://t.co/2JPmq4AvuE— Twiggy (@Twiggy) 1625780919
@PoliticsForAlI @Telegraph Why? We are moving to a hybrid model going forward— Glostermeteor 🔶 (@Glostermeteor 🔶) 1625777511
It is not the first time Sunak has waxed lyrical about the office. In an interview with the Telegraph, in March, Sunak claimed staff may quit their jobs if they are not allowed to work from the office and said that homeworking is no substitute for an office environment with “people riffing off each other”.
He said: “You can’t beat the spontaneity, the team building, the culture that you create in a firm or an organisation from people actually spending physical time together.”
It appeared that not everyone had as strong relationships with their colleagues as Sunak clearly does, and writing on Twitter, various people proceeded to rip into his plans and mock him for overestimated the extent to which people like their offices:
@SkyNews I can tell Rishi, ever with his finger on the pulse of the people, that he’s right, office workers are jus… https://t.co/RBW6JnquqQ— LCD Views (@LCD Views) 1616749790
Has Rishi ever met actual people? https://t.co/N6RSB7NiBs— Nathan McFedries (@Nathan McFedries) 1616760588
this pandemic has taken so much from us but the thing i miss most is saying "not much, bit quiet. you?" in the work… https://t.co/he4Mspcgru— normal account (@normal account) 1616758674
Rishi Sunak: There is nothing fellow humans love more than cramming themselves into a hotbox of disease for 3-4 hou… https://t.co/2XxXKj0Hm3— James Felton (@James Felton) 1616757986
Others expressed suspicion at his motives:
@SkyNews Translation Rishi Sunak mates have office rental property that is near empty and their rental income has… https://t.co/MV9HTOpqRR— Cirian75 #YNWA 62.5% 🇬🇧 25% 🇳🇱 12.5% 🇦🇺 (@Cirian75 #YNWA 62.5% 🇬🇧 25% 🇳🇱 12.5% 🇦🇺) 1616744382
While Rishi won the hearts and stomachs of the nation last year by introducing the Eat out to Help Out scheme, it seems that on this occasion his finger is not as firmly on the pulse.