Scots estate agents must now return to home working… but will England follow?

Scottish First Minister says rapid spread of new Omicron variant has forced her hand as government battles new outbreak.

nichola sturgeon scotland covid estate agents

In a sign of what may soon be around the corner for English, Welsh and NI estate agents, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced new Covid restrictions to office working.

She told MSPs that next week it will become a legal requirement for companies to re-introduce home working for staff who did so during the first lockdown.

Sturgeon revealed that while her government was working hard to speed up its vaccination programme, she had reluctantly concluded that measures are needed to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant.

The new rules, which are to be published within days, will include a legal requirement for companies to protect workers who cannot work from home with specified safety measures within their offices and branches.

This will include regular testing and the use of screens.

“Let me be clear – we do not do this lightly and I know how hard it is so please believe me when I saw I would not be asking for yet more sacrifice if I did not genuinely consider this to be necessary,” she said.

“We want to keep businesses open but to achieve this we are asking them to step up the protections within their premises.”

She went on to say that the existing Covid regulations would be amended to put a legal requirement on those running businesses or providing services to take measures that are ‘reasonably practicable’ to minimise the risk of transmission.

On Monday similar but less restrictive measures were brought in by the government in England, only requiring that office and branch workers should work from home ‘if they are able to’.

Boris Johnson’s ‘Plan B’ also set out how firms should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment.

One Comment

  1. Many people say that agency is a ‘people business’ as if having a high street office where people can meet face to face is an essential tool for looking after clients.

    In 1985 that might have been true, but the customer of 2025, wants fast efficient solutions to their buying or letting needs, and they expect to do this instantly and digitally from their sofa, morning, noon, or night.

    Since 2016, over 3,000 high street banks have shut, and nine still shut every week in the UK. The fintech revolution is ten years ahead of the proptech revolution in real estate, with very few people now, not banking online.

    So as the UK eases into a soft ‘lockdown’ which may harden in the weeks ahead, ‘the need for physical branches for agents is at tipping point,’ and the true battle is understanding how to digitally transform estate agency businesses for the future. Maybe time to ask me how?

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