Is working from home here to stay? Employers and employees seem to think so


Most people in the UK think that some form of remote working is here for the long term and that office workers won’t return to the office full-time again, according to a new survey.

A survey conducted by YouGov for the BBC found that 70% of 1,684 respondents believed that office workers would “never return to offices at the same rate” as before the pandemic.

The study also polled 530 top business leaders, and 79% of them agreed that office workers would spend at least part of their time working remotely.

However, half also thought that long-term remote working would hinder creativity and collaboration between colleagues. Just 38% of the wider public felt the same.

Half of senior business leaders polled fear remote working will hamper creativity and collaboration
Half of senior business leaders polled fear remote working will hamper creativity and collaboration

Do workers want to return to the office?

According to a survey of over 1,000 UK workers carried out earlier this year, only 15% of them wanted to return to the office full-time once the pandemic was over.

Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters – 73% – of respondents said they would accept a pay cut if it meant they could work from home on a permanent basis.

It appears, then, that most of those who have been working from home during the pandemic would prefer to continue doing so for at least part of the time.

Do employers want workers to return to the office?

Now that we’re around 18 months into the pandemic, employers and employees alike have had plenty of time to work out what they like – and don’t – about remote working.

Some employers have expressed concerns that permanent, full-time remote working could hamper productivity and make workforces less creative than previously.

Some employers worry about the long-term effects of remote working, but employees seem to appreciate the flexibility it offers
Some employers worry about the long-term effects of remote working, but employees seem to appreciate the flexibility it offers

There are also some who have cited worries about the knock-on effects for other businesses previously reliant on trade from office workers, such as some restaurants and coffee shops.

However, most businesses with employees who are able to do their jobs remotely seem to accept that this is what a lot of workers want and are making allowances.

What are the pros and cons of remote working?

For employees, the pros of remote working are pretty obvious. In particular, it means they don’t have to commute to work, slogging their way to the office on buses, trams and trains.

At the same time, however, there are still some who prefer to be with their colleagues in person. Also, remote working can blur the distinction between work life and home life, making it harder for some to switch off.

Some workers find that remote working makes it harder to disconnect, blurring the line between their working routine and their home life
Some workers find that remote working makes it harder to disconnect, blurring the line between their working routine and their home life

Some also fear that working from home could deprive them of career opportunities, giving those who spend more time in the workplace an unfair advantage.

For employers, remote working gives them a wider pool of talent to choose from. They’re no longer restricted to people able to commute to a physical workplace, or who are prepared to relocate.

But there are fears that ideas may not flow as freely between office workers if they aren’t physically present alongside one another, and that productivity could suffer as a result.

Is remote working here to stay?

Both bosses and office workers alike appear to have accepted that remote working is here to stay for the long haul, in some form.

It’s important to remember that the trend towards working from home predates the pandemic, though it was, of course, greatly accelerated by it.

But the exact balance between remote work and in-person work has yet to be determined – and it may be a bone of contention between employers and employees in the years ahead.

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