With the prime minister setting a date in England for what seems to be the easing of restrictions and a return to normality, many businesses may wonder what will be different this time around. What will it mean for furloughed businesses and those who have been working from home in the interim?

People working from home will probably see this continue as many reports have shown that both employers and employees have enjoyed this ‘new normal’ with it proving to create a better work/life balance and better levels of productivity. When you cut out the time of the commute and observe the general understanding around the everyday happenings of life such as childcare etc, we have seen our workforces become more pragmatic and united. Many businesses may have worked from home on merely a temporary basis and will be looking into the ways they can get their workforce back into the office safely. As long as businesses are adhering to all health and safety standards it might not be as long winded as some think to get their staff back into the office, even if it is done in a staggered manner. 

The Job Retention Scheme – more commonly known as furlough, is set to end in April. This might see the introduction of what was going to be the Job Support Scheme, where the government contributed less than 80%. However, it is quite likely that the furlough scheme gets extended for another two months. Nevertheless, it is still probable that furloughed workers will see their government support changing in April, which would create a somewhat easier transition in June, where furlough would end for good based on what the prime minister has said. If businesses such as the hospitality sector, who have had to furlough staff for the majority of the pandemic are able to resume business, this will be fantastic for the economy and for the owners of small businesses. Many restaurants/cafes have been operating under a takeaway only scheme in the past few months which means they have not needed all their staff and will not have seen as much business as usual. The prospect of bringing furloughed staff back and opening their doors again to the public will create a sense of togetherness and definitely the feeling of being ‘back to normal’. 

Although a date has been set and there is a general feeling of having a light at the end of the tunnel, it is still heavily reliant on the success of the vaccine and the continuous decreasing in daily cases. With the prospect of all coronavirus restrictions being eased, it does mean what we have all become used to is subject to change and it is important to remain flexible and open to these. 

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