No full-time return to the office?

As life gets back to (the new) normal, many people are considering their working habits. A new survey suggests that most people do not think employees will make a full-time return to the office after the pandemic.

The survey for the BBC found that 70% of respondents expected that workers would “never return to offices at the same rate.”

Most employees said they would prefer to work from home on a full-time or part-time basis, an approach that has been dubbed ‘hybrid’ working.

Despite the findings, around half of managers have expressed concerns about the impact of continued remote working on creativity and productivity.

YouGov surveyed 530 senior leaders, and half said that working from home would harm creativity and collaboration. Only 38% of the general public agreed with this sentiment.

Despite these fears, 79% of senior business leaders agreed that employees would never return to offices in the same way as before the pandemic.

The latest official figures show that the proportion of employees who worked from home at least some of the time in 2020 was 37%, up from 27% a year earlier.

Another common fear about remote working is that younger employees will be disadvantaged if they cannot access face-to-face contact with colleagues.

With younger employees particularly hard hit by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, a rise in remote working practices could exacerbate their employment challenges.

On the flip side, women could see their careers boosted by increased home-working, making it easier to manage childcare responsibilities.

In the past week, we have heard from Health Secretary Sajid Javid that part of the government’s winter contingency plans is to recommend working from home in England if the NHS faces considerable pressure.

According to Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, working from home can make a significant difference to the transmission of the virus. He said:

“The most important and effective way of reducing spread of the virus is not to be in contact with other people.”