Yet another report has pointed out that working from home increases productivity. In a recent article (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/07/work-form-home-hybrid-working-covid-pandemic-us-office/) the World Economic Forum has pointed to research in the USA showing that a hybrid workforce is likely to increase productivity by 4.6%. Fewer than 30 percent of the sample surveyed said they will return fully to pre-COVID activities and over 30 percent said they would like to continue to work from home five days a week.
This just adds to the mounting evidence that those people who have enjoyed the benefits of working from home will not willingly return to full-time commuting. If their employer insists they return to the office against their will then there is a good chance they will think of moving to a more flexible working environment. They will be able to look further afield for interesting jobs if they don’t have to travel in every day.
A poll of 1,000 UK workers, conducted by EY as part of its 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, found that four in five wanted flexibility where they worked, and 47 percent went as far as to say they would consider changing their jobs if flexible working wasn’t an option. It’s a very a short-sighted employer who ignores the evidence and insists people return to the office.
More than half of employers expect to receive more flexible working requests as the UK comes out of the pandemic according to ACAS. YouGov polled more than 2,000 senior decision makers in UK companies on their behalf and found 55 per cent expected an increase in the number of staff working remotely for part of the week. Half of those polled (49 per cent) said they expected more staff to work remotely all week.
Staff have had a taste of freedom and don’t see why they should go back to the old way of working. They may also be worried about potential exposure to Covid-19 as case numbers rise. They won’t want to commute on crowded public transport to get to work. If the employer insists, it’s likely to end up with a claim for unfair dismissal.
The future has to be hybrid. Some people can work well from home, others need to get out of the house. Some jobs can be done remotely, others need personal contact. Technology can help with communications but it has its limitations. We need managers who are prepared to trust their people and give them a choice in how they work. We are never going back to pre-pandemic working patterns.