Belgian businesses wary of 'back to the office' wave
Numerous Belgian companies are worried that employees will return to the office en masse this winter to save on their electricity and gas bills. Yet many service companies, banks, audit firms and consultancy groups are not prepared for a mass return to the office, Mediahuis newspapers reported today.
In recent years, an increasing number of Belgian service companies have cut back on their office space, favouring higher quality but smaller buildings. To compound the issue, many companies have moved towards a hybrid working and teleworking in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. With many employees no longer going to the office every day, the concept of a fixed desk for everyone was abandoned.
Companies note that Tuesday and Thursday in particular are peak office working days. "Those are the days when people prefer to work in the office. When everyone comes back, we will have to add chairs," says Axel Smits, chairman of PwC Belgium, one of the major audit and advisory groups. "There is no fixed desk for every employee."
After coronavirus restrictions ended, many employees preferred to continue working from home as much as possible. This was subsequently written into collective labour agreements. On some days, only 20% of employees were still coming to the office. Not all employers were equally excited about this shift. Now, companies themselves are often asking employees to work from home to cut office costs.
© JEFF PACHOUD / AFP