UK "well behind" rest of Europe in returning to the office, reveals CBI President

31 August 2020, 13:44

By Seán Hickey

Lord Karan Bilimoria shared statistics showing the UK to be lagging behind the rest of Europe in returning to the workplace.

As the UK slowly reopens after the Covid-19 pandemic, Maajid Nawaz wondered "how can we facilitate an increased footfall in the city centres."

Lord Karan Bilimoria, President of the Confederation of British Industry and founder of Cobra Beer shared his insight.

"We've had to put health first over the past five and a half months but it's caused a huge economic crisis."

"We've been flattening the health curve, now what we're really worried about is unemployment, we've got to flatten the unemployment curve."

Maajid wondered if a lack of footfall is a concern business owners are sharing with Lord Bilimoria as President of the CBI.

Lord Bilimoria revealed that the UK is far behind the European average in returning to work
Lord Bilimoria revealed that the UK is far behind the European average in returning to work. Picture: PA

He accepted that lockdown has given us the opportunity to work efficiently from home, but told Maajid that "there are huge benefits of going back to the office, not just for the local economy...work is actually good when you're in an office environment," he argued.

"What we've got to do is have a balanced approach," Lord Bilimoria said.

"If you look at international comparisons, the latest statistics are of white collar workers going back to work...we're at 34%, France is over 80%, Italy is almost at 80%, Germany is at 70% and the Europe-wide average is around 70%."

"We are well behind the curve in getting back to work," the CBI President revealed, much to Maajid's surprise.

"We've got to encourage people," Lord Bilimoria said. "They've got to feel confident and safe to return to work."

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