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Hybrid work

Published on Monday, 17 July 2023

Navigating the shift to Hybrid Work

The appetite for a return to the office is increasing but not at the same level as pre-pandemic levels although change of use rules, enabling high street retail units to be transformed into new offices without the need for planning permission, is helping to revive its fortunes.


After the pandemic saw most deskbound employees working from home, recalling them back to the office has largely fallen on deaf ears despite interventions from the government to entice people back to their offices.


With the anniversary of the pandemic’s end in sight on 19 July, it appears hybrid working is here to stay but employers are also taking a firmer stance on insisting employees spend at least some of their time in the office. Meanwhile, the worsening economic crisis and rising redundancies as a result, means employers could now feel empowered to demand their workers return to the office.


Earlier this year a number of large organisations including Meta, Amazon, Starbucks and Apple recalled their employees back to the office for at least three days a week with others demanding four. The idea that workers and particularly those at the start of their careers perform and learn better when working alongside colleagues is fast gathering pace.


However, data from the ONS shows from September 2022 to January 2023, 16% of the UK workforce work solely remotely whilst more than a quarter (28%) were hybrid workers. The data also revealed that in the preceding seven days a staggering 40% had worked from home at some stage compared to just 12% who had done so in 2019.


Drawing on several studies, The Guardian reports increased benefits and productivity when employees are able to work some of the time from home. However, employers often benefitted in the current climate with many employees happy to trade inflation tracking pay rises for home working.


Whilst data from professional social networking site LinkedIn showed home-based and flexible working roles declined in February for the tenth consecutive month, its research found more than a third (34%) of employees would resign if forced to return to the office full-time. The data also revealed that whilst six in ten were considering a job change this year, a fifth would stay if they could work flexibly.


The number of remote working roles advertised on LinkedIn in February was down more than 30% compared to the same time in 2022 accounting for just over 10% of postings.


Latest research by the Department of Transport found that only almost a third (32%) of workers travelled into work for five days a week or more in November 2022, the same figure as the previous year when pandemic restrictions were still in force. This compares to 47% immediately before the pandemic.


Another study, as reported by the BBC, which analysed mobile phone data from 2019 to 2022, suggested people are more likely to be working from the office Tuesday to Thursday and empty office space has more than doubled in London in the past three years, according to real estate firm CBRE Investment Management.


The BBC report also highlights increased footfall in towns and suburbs compared to city centres and with efforts to revive the high street as we highlighted previously, the UK could well be undergoing a transformation of the office with a mix of local hubs, home working and shared spaces alongside the traditional set-up. 




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