CEO Linda Plant says a return to work is needed to ‘keep Britain great’

She’s known as one of the tough-talking interviewers on The Apprentice, and CEO Linda Plant isn’t taking kindly to those who dream of working from home for the rest of their careers following lockdown.

Leeds-born Linda, who started her business life on a market stall, is encouraging people to eagerly return to the office when it’s safe to do so.

She insists that staff heading back to workplaces is what needs to happen to ‘keep Britain great’ – fearing that otherwise, ideas will go ‘dull and stale’ and small businesses will suffer from lack of footfall. 

Linda appeared on Good Morning Britain last month to argue that it’s an employer’s ‘right’ to decide how to ‘run a business efficiently’ as long as they create a safe environment – but viewers were divided over the issue.

Here, LINDA PLANT reveals why she believes employees should stop working from home… 

She’s known as one of the tough-talking interviewers on The Apprentice, and CEO Linda Plant (pictured) isn’t taking kindly to those who dream of working from home for the rest of their careers following lockdown

Let me tell you why I think people should get back to work, but before I do, let me just say this. I love our country and I’m proud to be British. I want to see Great Britain stay just that way. We need to thrive and survive through this horrendous pandemic.

Perhaps it’s me, but I don’t really understand references to ‘the new normal’. What is normal about life today? Wearing face masks wherever we go? Our freedom from life as we knew it, restricted to a massive extent. 

What’s normal about people who are not lucky enough to have a garden being locked up in their homes or flats for weeks on end, many with small children? What’s normal about being forced into an existence of loneliness and virtual isolation?

What would be normal is the consequential devastating and worrying effects on people’s mental health and the panic that evolves from that. Not really knowing if our children can go back to school. 

I’ve got a 93 year old mum who got an MBE for all her charity work. Believe me, I want to see her 94th birthday. So I’m not taking precautions for granted. I’m not saying that we should not accept these changes; they are important for our health and well being.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see where the word ‘normal’ comes into any of this. I do agree we have to have some acceptance of a new normal for life to carry on, but I want to retrieve some of our original normal.

Keeping our nation safe and protecting our NHS is paramount, I fully concur with this.

Leeds-born Linda (pictured), who started her career on a market stall, is encouraging staff to eagerly return to the office when it's safe to do so

Leeds-born Linda (pictured), who started her career on a market stall, is encouraging staff to eagerly return to the office when it’s safe to do so

Getting people back to the workplace needs careful planning and good communication, relieving you’re employees from as much anxiety as possible by taking all the necessary safety measures.

But let me get back to why I really want to see people get back to the workplace.

As I said I love our country. I’ve had a fairly long journey. I was born in a time when it was the norm to play out in the street, when we had communities and many, many small traders. It’s no secret that my business life started on a market stall and it’s something I’m very proud of. Yes, trading is something I do understand, that’s why I’m so positive about people getting back to the workplace.

I’m a Northern girl, born in Leeds, so for me it’s important not to forget about all the other cities that Great Britain is made up of. Not everyone lives in Zone 1 or works in the City. Not everyone in Britain commutes 45 minutes on the underground, spending small fortunes getting into the office. What about our cities, towns and villages outside our capital?

Back to why I want to see people back in the workplace. Don’t get me wrong I’m not against progress, I’m absolutely for it. But how will Britain be able to thrive and survive? That’s our concern.

I’ve always been a believer in communication. Here are the reasons why we need to return to work.

When you are in your workplace, you are not isolated, you can bounce ideas off each other, communication and collaboration encourages creativity and ideas. Ideas need to be shared and then they can evolve into better ideas. Isolation does not promote the same enthusiasm as personal contact; it can make us dull and stale. There is no healthy competition or productive banter working from home.

Linda (pictured) insists that staff heading back to workplaces is what needs to happen to 'keep Britain great'

Linda (pictured) insists that staff heading back to workplaces is what needs to happen to ‘keep Britain great’

So many important relationships are formed in and from the workplace. I like people and I like meeting people. There is something integral and honest about human face to face communication that in my opinion can never be replaced by talking into a screen.

People need change – too much routine can be so detrimental on mental health. The social aspect too of a workplace environment, perhaps just going for that drink or dinner after work is not only stimulating, but out of social conversations relationships and ideas are forged. There are so many reasons to get back to the workplace and so many businesses that just cannot be run from home.

Don’t get me wrong there are some people who have always worked from home and there are some people who will continue to work from home; I do understand this.

But you know what my big worry is? It’s the trickle down effect; it’s the knock on effect for our SMEs. Small and medium business enterprises are vital to our economy. These are businesses which usually employ under 250 people. In 2019 SME’s represented 60 per cent of our employment, around 16million people.

These businesses need support; they are vital to our economy; we need them and we rely on them and we need to get them going. They need our support to survive and maintain employment. 

Cities, towns, village shops need people, need customers. When people see other people shopping and purchasing it’s encouraging; we must support our coffee shops and small and medium traders of all varieties. 

How will they survive if we don’t get people back to the workplace? How will Britain survive if unemployment is massive? Our SME’s need us! 

We need to keep Britain great.

Linda has recently founded the Linda Plant Business Academy to provide help, advice and support for those in business or embarking on a new business during turbulent times. Details on her business courses can be found at www.lindaplant.com

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