When offices shut their doors in March 2020, it was a situation unlike any we had encountered before; there was a presumption that many, if not all of us, would have returned to the office by the end of 2020. This was not to be, and the landscape shifted once again, when the government announced restrictions for people, including many in organisations like Aon, to work from home if they could until March 2021. As we start 2021 and are buffeted by what we hope are the residual winds of COVID-19, the reality is that the UK is nowhere near as close to recovery as was widely anticipated.
We are still unlikely to return to the workplace in any significant capacity in London, and the wider UK, until the second half of 2021. News of the vaccine approval had been the hope that the UK was waiting for, but as Dr Rodriguez-Fernandez tells us – a rollout that enables what we have previously understood to be a ‘normal’ environment will probably take until 2024 globally, so we must make provisions to adjust to a new workplace culture when we do return.
In the longer term, there is every chance that the office, as we previously knew it, will change significantly. This possibility has huge commercial ramifications and forces us to truly think about the office of the future and our work lives reimagined. The objective of the London Work, Travel and Convene Coalition is to help facilitate those conversations and utilise expert insight to help guide our decision-making regarding a safe return to the workplace.
Thinking now and for the future
As we continue to learn more about the path of the pandemic and the implications for organisations, we are engaging with experts responsive to the ever-changing picture. To date, we have had authorities from the world of pandemic risk modelling, mental health and wellbeing, and vaccines, providing invaluable insight. What we have learnt in the London coalition applies across most towns and cities in the UK. Our journey is far from over, and our ongoing collaboration is crucial to shaping how London responds to the future world of work. Whilst we are unable to manage the virus directly, we can manage how we build resilience in our organisations and physically and mentally support and protect our colleagues.
Every organisation is now a healthcare organisation
The future may be far from clear, but one definitive trend has emerged from the coalition sessions. While the speakers derive their expertise from different sources, at the centre of a Venn diagram the same words can be found: workforce health is a strategic imperative for firms.
This insight report aims to showcase the coalition's work so far, underpinned by Aon's data and analytics, and considers what may influence the trajectory of the UK's recovery over the coming months. While no-one has all the answers, we share our own experience, alongside coalition members, to help shine a light on the future world of work and the ways in which we can build resilience in by design. This marks the beginning of the coalition's collaboration, rather than the end.