Young people benefit from being in the office, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said, as he highlighted its positive influence on his own early career.
Mr Sunak said he doubted he would have forged the links with mentors who had helped him if he had been forced to rely on video conferencing tools such as Zoom.
Since the lifting of coronavirus restrictions on 19 July, the government is no longer instructing people to work from home in England and in online guidance for office workers it says it “expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer”.
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Asked about a return to the workplace in an interview with LinkedIn news, Mr Sunak highlighted previous remarks he made “about young people in particular benefiting from being in offices”.
He said: “It was really beneficial to me when I was starting out in my career.”
Referring to a recent visit to Scotland where he met young people starting careers in financial services, which Mr Sunak had worked in, he said: “I was telling them, the mentors that I found when I first started my job I still talk to and they have been helpful to me all through my career even after we have gone in different ways.
“I doubt I would have had those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship or my first bit of my career over Teams and Zoom.
“And that’s why I think for young people in particular being able to physically be in an office is valuable.”
But the chancellor pointed out the government had left the decision to businesses.
He said: “We’ve kind of stopped saying that people should actively work from home and have now left it up to businesses to work with their teams to figure out the right approach.
“In terms of a return to work, which we have said we would expect that and recommend that to be gradual from when the restrictions eased, in keeping with everything else that we are doing, it’s been gradual, it’s cautious, it’s careful, so there will be a gradual return back to the offices and I think that is what broadly will happen.”