Sixty-three per cent of employees now believe that the office is unnecessary, according to research from the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM).
This is a rise of a fifth since the first lockdown (51 per cent). The poll, which surveyed 2,000 office workers across the country in March 2021, found that the vast majority of employees will expect a level of ‘hybrid’ working in the future – with nearly half (44 per cent) of the workforce planning to work from the office for three days or fewer a week.
Demand for hybrid working is particularly prevalent in the younger demographic. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of 18-24-year-olds admitted that not being offered flexible work patterns would cause them to look for a new job. Yet worryingly, more than a third (38 per cent) of this demographic feel that their employer is pressuring them to return to the office – a move that risks losing new talent.
The IWFM is calling on employers to ensure that hybrid working is accessible for all and to provide adequate choice and support for employees to perform their role from multiple locations, in order to avoid losing younger workers to competitors.
Chris Moriarty, director of insight at the IWFM, said: “More than a year on, we continue to see employers striving to strike the right balance between remote and office working. The benefits of the office have not been forgotten, yet we continue to become accustomed and comfortable with our home working routines.
“The truth is, home versus office working should not be viewed as a binary choice between focus and connection. A true commitment to ‘hybrid working’ will give employees and employers flexibility to work in a way that is best suited to them – allowing them to reap the productivity and social benefits of both home and office working environments, how and when it best suits their needs. Employers should now make every effort to provide staff with genuine choice to perform their role wherever they feel their performance would be best supported – adapting the office space, incentives and policies to reflect the changing nature of the workspace environment.”
Moriarty added: “The Covid-19 crisis has left a permanent mark on our view of the workplace – and a knee-jerk return to the pre-pandemic status quo risks serious implications for businesses in attracting and nurturing talent. The responsibility now falls on organisations to think about their employee experience beyond the boundaries of their corporate workspace. Effective employers will already be thinking of how to support employees and provide a suitable working environment for them, wherever and however they choose to work.”
More than three-quarters (79 per cent) of 18-24-year-olds believe that they will be equally as productive or more productive working from home. This demographic is also working the most unpaid overtime from home – on average 11.6 extra hours a week – and has invested on average nearly £300 in creating a suitable working environment at home (£292).
The research was conducted by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management as part of its continuing ‘Return to the Workplace’ campaign.
See here for more information on the campaign.
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