Mansfield has the highest percentage of workers in the UK returning to their offices and workplaces after the lockdown, according to newly released data.
The Centre for Cities think tank has concluded 40 percent of workers in Mansfield are now back on the job – representing the highest percent of workers to return to offices in the UK’s major towns and cities since lockdown eased.
In comparison, only 17 percent of office workers have returned nationally since August, 18 percent in Nottingham, and an even lower percentage of 13 have returned in London.
These figures are called a ‘workers index’ and look at city-centre and major town centre workers on weekdays, compared to a pre-lockdown baseline of 100.
Mansfield has so far seen a low number of coronavirus cases, with only 370 in total, and workers and business leaders have praised the impact a return to work could have on high street retailers.
Founded in 1888, conveyancing, wills and probate specialists at Mansfield’s Fidler & Pepper Lawyers on Queen Street, reopened their offices for appointments on September 1.
Joanne Godson, HR director at Fidler & Pepper Lawyers, said: “Once all of the schools are back, we will have 100 percent of our staff back at work.
“We have learnt a great deal from the recent circumstances that we found ourself in and we have chosen to incorporate ongoing flexibility into the roles that our employees have.
“Whilst we are mainly an office based employer, we will be facilitating our employees to work one day a week at home, for those that choose to do this and for those whose jobs enable this to happen.
“Having such a brilliant team of people working together has enabled us to find creative solutions during these challenging times and that has made sure we could carry on helping clients during this time.”
Mansfield Garage Doors on Great Central Road has its full workforce back in the office.
Alison Phelan, a director at the business, said: “All 12 of us are now back at work and we are up to full strength.
“We are busier than ever before, which we think could be down to people spending money on home improvements rather than going on foreign holidays.”
James Boler, who runs JRB Accountancy, said: “We are still largely working remotely ourselves, though we have a huge amount of clients in Mansfield and we are seeing a drive to return them back to work through a lower number of furlough claims.
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“There were around two-thirds as many claims in April as there were in August for furloughing workers and all but one of those were in a 15 mile radius of Mansfield.”
Wayne Swiffin, of Mansfield-based Mandatum Public Relations, is still working remotely away from his office space in Regent Street.
The Clipstone resident said: “There is certainly a noticeable drive from businesses who want to return to the office.
“But, there are a lot of companies who are taking their time and evaluating whether they need the same office space as before.
“Technology has helped people stay in touch, although they may not be in the same physical space. I think the office market will still be there, but it will be changed.”
A spokesperson for Mansfield BID said: “We have been supporting our businesses through the pandemic, and will of course continue to do as we return to some sort of normal.
“We are being asked for advice and support from businesses and retailers on a daily basis and we have seen an increase just recently.
“We think this indicates that more and more people are returning to work, albeit with slightly different working patterns or with new procedures in place.”
Mansfield MP Ben Bradley added: “I think its great that Mansfield is leading the way in getting back to work and cracking on with things, helped by the fact that we’ve perhaps had fewer Covid-19 health problems than many other areas.
“It’s really important that we can give people the confidence to get out and about, and getting people back to the office where it’s practical is important for other businesses and our high street too.”
Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at Centre for Cities, said: “Big cities like Nottingham and London are struggling to entice workers back to their offices, and this is a problem for their high streets given how much they depend on worker footfall.
“The centre of Mansfield has not seen as large falls in people commuting in as its larger counterparts, which likely reflects the make up of the centre of Mansfield – there are fewer office jobs as a share of all jobs than in other commercial centres. This is good news for Mansfield’s shops, cafes and pubs that are already there.
“But it’s important to stress that even as the centre of Mansfield recovers, it went into the crisis in a struggling position.
“If Mansfield town centre is to become more bustling in the future, attracting new shops and restaurants in, then it will need to attract in the office jobs that provide a key part of footfall in more successful centres.”