THOUSANDS of staff at Dorset’s biggest employers will continue working from home for the foreseeable future despite government efforts to get people back into town centres.

Boris Johnson told ministers this week that “people are going back to the office in huge numbers across our country”, although his spokesman later admitted he had no figures to back up the claim.

Employers can now decide who needs to be at work. But social distancing requirements are keeping many staff at home.

Bournemouth Echo:

Bournemouth’s biggest private sector employer, JP Morgan, has 20 per cent of its 4,000 local staff in the office.

It expects that to rise to 30 per cent from next Monday, September 7, but is not expecting to have more than half of its staff in any office for the foreseeable future because of social distancing.

Bournemouth Echo:

BCP Council expects the majority of its 4,000 staff to remain at home until at least early 2021, when Bournemouth Town Hall becomes its main office.

Chief executive Graham Farrant said: “The large majority of our office-based employees are currently continuing to work from home but our main offices in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are open for those colleagues who need to be in an office or are unable to work from home.

“As part of the council’s wider transformation programme, we are in the process of creating a single BCP Council Civic Centre at our existing Town Hall site in Bournemouth where our main office accommodation will be located in future. We anticipate that work to reconfigure this site will be ready in early 2021 and until then we expect most of our office-based colleagues to continue working from home.

“When it becomes possible to relax our current Covid-19 related approach to office use, we anticipate our workforce moving to a flexible working arrangement whereby they spread their time working across office and home working settings.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Around 2,500 Dorset Council staff will also work from home until at least March because the authority does not have the space to ensure social distancing in offices.

Dorset Council staff to continue working from home

Around 2,000 staff are at their normal workplaces because their jobs are front line roles or cannot be done at home.

Bournemouth Echo:

Only about five per cent of office staff at Poole’s cosmetics brand Lush are back in the workplace.

A spokesperson said: “Lush is a company that thrives on human contact, so we are all really looking forward to being together again. However there is no pressure on staff to return to work until they feel ready. Meanwhile our offices are ready for them with all the recommended coronavirus measures in place and about five per cent of our staff have so far chosen to return.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Barclays, which employs around 1,000 people locally, expects the majority of staff to work from home until at least the end of September, with any return being “phased and gradual”. Its Eagle Lab for start-up businesses at Westbourne recently reopened with social distancing in place.

A spokesperson said: “Our branch network is open across Bournemouth and Poole albeit on reduced hours and we appreciate the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues to continue to provide essential services, especially for our vulnerable customers during this time.

“The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our top priority and we have precautionary measures in place across our branch network based on advice from Public Health England.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Nationwide Building Society, which has around 1,200 local staff, said: “As an essential service we have kept our offices and branches open throughout lockdown and continue to do so, providing Covid-secure workspaces for those that need them. The majority of colleagues working from home will continue to do so for the time being, unless there is a requirement to be on site. We are continually talking to colleagues to understand how we can support them to safely work where they need to be.”