The restrictions placed on us by the COVID-19 pandemic mean that we’re working from home, whether we like it or not. Unless you’ve been furloughed, or the nature of your work prevents it, employers have been expecting their staff to continue to work while they’re away from the office. Everyone’s got their own opinion about this, from their own experience. With children at home, working and supervising home learning is a difficult balancing act. On the other hand, some people thrive without a long commute. or being able to work at their most productive time of the day.

But it’s employers who’ll make the decisions about whether or not to keep a remote working option, after COVID restrictions are lifted.

No working from home

For some, like the head of Goldman Sachs, this option definitely won’t be on the table. Speaking at a conference, David Soloman said: “I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us. And it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible.”

He said that they’d been functioning with only 10% of their staff in the office during 2020. Mr Soloman said that adapting to the pandemic restrictions had encouraged new efficiencies through using digital tech but “I don’t think as we get out of the pandemic the overall operating mode of the way a business like ours operates will be vastly different.”

As reported by the BBC, interestingly, he also said: “I am very focused on the fact that I don’t want another class of young people arriving at Goldman Sachs in the summer remotely.” 3,000 new employees without “direct mentorship” isn’t an ideal circumstance for their learning and development.

As an investment bank, Goldman Sachs are in the finance sector. Will it be the same for other companies in the same industry? Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan said that remote working has reduced their productivity. And Barclays leader, Jes Staley has voiced a hope to get their employees back into the office as soon as possible, as a result of the quick vaccine roll-out.

But HSBC has announced a 40% cut in its office space, with Lloyds Banking Group committing to a reduction in offices by 20% over the next three years.

Perhaps there won’t be a clear-cut sector response, but a more individualised one that takes into account the nuances of the specific work being done in each company.

In favour of remote working

Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft have already announced that the option to work remotely will be permanent. Perhaps the first to call it, in the tech sector. Will other companies do the same?

There is a suggested trade-off though. For example, Facebook have also said that employees not working in their Silicon Valley or San Francisco offices would have less expenses and therefore could expect lower pay. An interesting discussion to follow there, we imagine.

What about you?

Maybe you can’t wait to get back to the office. Or do you love the idea of working from home permanently? Perhaps you like the idea of a split week – half working at home, half in the office.

It’s difficult to know right now what the employment landscape will look like once we’re COVID-safe as a country. However you’ve found the working from home experience, it’s worth keeping an eye on what your industry sector’s planning to do.

One thing’s for sure, wherever you’re earning, you’re paying income tax. Lots of people have had to work from home as a totally new experience. Which means you’ve never come across the working from home tax reliefs and allowances you’re entitled to. Worth checking out, so you can keep a note of your expenses before we get to the end of the next tax year.