BT boss warns of 'very stark' mental toll from lockdowns

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2 min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 30: Philip Jansen, incoming chief executive officer of BT Group Plc (R) and Gavin Patterson, chief executive officer of BT Group Plc (L) arrive at Downing Street on January 30, 2019 in London, England. British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to have further talks with EU leaders after MPs in the House of Commons last night backed a proposal for her to amend the Brexit withdrawal agreement. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Philip Jansen, right, chief executive of BT, pictured visiting Downing Street with former BT chief executive Gavin Patterson on January 30, 2019. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The chief executive of BT (BT-A.L) has warned that lockdowns are having a “very stark” impact on people’s mental health, with implications for businesses as well as broader public health.

Philip Jansen said his employees were more stressed, tired, and “mentally challenged” as a result of lockdowns.

“There is a lot of fatigue within the organisation, within BT, but I’m sure that’s true of every organisation,” Jansen told an online event hosted by the CBI and reported on by the Times.

“We’ve got 120,000 people. They’re tired and they are bored of the mode of operating, which is very one-dimensional and lacks the interaction of humans in the way that we are used to.”

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Jansen, who was one of the first major UK executives to contract COVID-19 last year, said he was personally feeling the toll from lockdown.

“I have found it very difficult,” he said. “I found myself feeling the squeeze of the lockdown. I can physically feel it as I’m working.”

Jansen said BT had put in place extra support for staff struggling with the mental toll. His comments came amid reports that the UK government was considering tightening restrictions even further.

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“I know there has been speculation about more restrictions, and we don’t rule out taking further action if it is needed,” health secretary Matt Hancock said during a televised press conference on Monday evening.

England entered a third national lockdown last week, with restrictions set to remain in place until at least mid-February. Cabinet secretary Michael Gove has suggested restrictions could realistically remain in place until March.

Brits have been told to stay at home as much as possible and only leave home for essential shopping and medical needs or for one daily exercise.

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