BBC Breakfast interview with Ciara Keeling - how important the return to the workplace is for the recovery of the wider economy

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Ciara Keeling, CEO of Bruntwood Works, speaks to BBC Breakfast on the first day back in the office since the government changed its guidance on the return to work. Here, Ciara explains how workspaces have been made safe and secure for those returning and outlines how important the return to the workplace is for the recovery of the wider economy.

Today is the first day back in the office for many since the government changed its ‘return to work’ guidance. As more people venture back it’s clear to see that while the way we work may have changed, offices and workplaces still have an important role to play.

The office is a place where people can come together to collaborate. It empowers the creativity and innovation at the heart of every business, and while some people are understandably apprehensive about the return to the office, many miss their colleagues and are looking forward to the return.

To support this return, businesses must continue to ensure workplaces are Covid-secure as this will help to reassure their teams that safety is the number one priority. We have worked hard to make sure our own workspaces are safe, friendly and easy to navigate for when colleagues and customers return, and this is something we will continue to focus on as we support the return to work.

This is vital as getting people back into offices safely will be key to the economic recovery of our cities. The return of office workers will help to drive forward a cyclical economy – it will increase footfall in towns and city centres and this will have a positive knock-on effect by boosting the use of public transport and increasing support for the local retail and hospitality operators that rely on the lunchtime and after work trade. We’ve already seen a promising boost in footfall at Hatch over the past few weeks, with many visitors welcoming the measures we’ve put in place to create a contact-free dining destination, but this upward trend will only continue if people feel safe to return to the city.

While the new local lockdown restrictions introduced across Greater Manchester and other areas in the North West do not change the guidance on the return to work, they have been put in place with good reason and serve as a reminder that we must do all we can to ensure our customers and colleagues feel safe in the office.

We may only be on day one of the government’s new guidance, but the early signs show a gradual return and we’re hopeful that this will continue to rise. We want to encourage more people back into the workplace to support the economic recovery of our towns and cities, so this week marks an important step forward. For many of us, it’s a happy return to seeing colleagues face-to-face and we’re looking forward to welcoming more of our customers and colleagues back to our buildings over the coming weeks.

Watch the clip of Ciara’s interview with BBC Breakfast here:

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