The boss of the British Chamber of Commerce has slammed the Government's "scaremongering" over its plans to rush workers back to the office.
BCC director Adam Marshall tweeted: "We all want to see a safe return to more workplaces – but the pace and scale will result from mature conversations between employers and employees, not scaremongering."
His criticism came after The Telegraph revealed that Boris Johnson will launch a publicity campaign next week to get Britain back to the office as ministers warned that working from home will make people more "vulnerable" to being sacked.
Mr Marshall contested the idea that working from home will not become a permanent option for some employees, suggesting that footfall in city centres may never recover to pre-crisis levels.
He said on Twitter: "Businesses have worked hard to build up trust with their people over the last six months. They've learned what works – and what doesn't.
"Some of the changes they've made will be permanent, and [government] needs to be ready to support city and town centres as they change as a result."
In a further blow to Downing Street's plan to bring life back to Britain's empty offices and eerie city centres, a new study from Cardiff University suggested that half of UK workers want to permanently work remotely, while 90pc want to do so from time to time.
The study also suggested that home working boosts productivity.
Prof Alan Felstead at Cardiff said: "Our analysis suggests there will be a major shift away from the traditional workplace, even when social distancing is no longer a requirement.
"What is particularly striking is that many of those who have worked at home during lockdown would like to continue to work in this way, even when social distancing rules do not require them to.
"These people are among the most productive, so preventing them from choosing how they work in the future does not make economic sense. Giving employees flexibility on where they work could be extremely beneficial for companies as they attempt to recover from the impact of Covid-19."
For many, working from home has been a revelation as it has given workers more time to spend with family and friends, while eliminating the long daily commute.
However, for others, particularly for younger employees, the shift to home working has proven disruptive and has hampered career development.
Earlier this week, data from Google Mobility showed that the UK was lagging most of the developed world in heading back to the workplace, as many major employers told staff they can permanently split their time between home and the office post-crisis.
Advertising giant WPP revealed on Thursday that just 3pc of its UK workforce are regularly going back to the office, compared with 17pc in Germany and 75pc in China.