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Home working here to stay

Once UK Government rules allow, Britain is set to move to a ‘mixed’ working style, with time in the office balanced with time at home. That’s suggested by a survey for the trade body the British Council for Offices (BCO) of 2000 UK office workers in early September, before new Government measures put off ‘return to the office’.

Asked about how they planned to work for the next six months, near half of office workers (46pc) intended to split their work between home and the office, while 30pc were set for a full, five-day-a-week return to the office. Office sceptics appear to be few, though, as only 15pc of respondents planned to only work from home. The BCO says the survey suggests a new approach to how we intend to work in the medium-to-long term.

That new hybrid spans hierarchies. A majority, 62pc of C-suite respondents planned to split their time between the home and the office, while 58pc of trainees aimed to do the same. Creatives (liking company for ideas?) were particularly keen to return to the office. Only 7pc of marketeers planned to work from home full time over the coming two quarters, making them the least keen profession to stay home.

The survey also found that a majority of office workers did return to their office in August, with 64pc having spent some time in the office since August 1, and almost a quarter (24pc) having worked a full week back at their desk.

Respondents also highlighted the importance of the office to career development; most, 71pc stated that the office is important for developing networks and learning. Meanwhile, 65pc said their career has been helped by relationships forged in the office and 71pc agreed the office is important for forming connections with colleagues. The BCO suggests that remote working may cause difficulties for young employees, who are yet to form networks and arguably gain most from seeing how their colleagues work.

Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the BCO, said: “Our way of working is changing, and a new, mixed working approach is becoming popular. This does not mean the end of the office. The office is valuable for career development, which relies on forming networks and the informal lessons that come from watching senior colleagues operate. This is particularly true for young people, who would suffer if working from home ever became totally predominant.

“The coming months and years are an opportunity to reimagine the office and its purpose. It is time for Britain return to the office, but doing so doesn’t mean a return to how we used to work. Let’s embrace the change.”

Matt Flood, Head of Occupier Markets at the property management firm Landsec, said: “The pandemic has triggered a huge acceleration in the trends which were already underway such as a greater emphasis on flexibility, wellbeing and sustainability. The future of work will be around choice where the office forms part of a wider ecosystem of physical and digital spaces

“This research, which supports our own customer insight, shows that the role of the office will evolve to be focused on driving collaboration, learning and innovation and so the spaces and products we design need to support these tasks whilst offering the opportunity for businesses to express their brand and culture.”

The polling was by Toluna, an independent market research agency.

See also the BCO’s release in August of guidance for the safe use of escalators and lifts; free to download for BCO members and non-members.

Comment

Vijay Kurkal, CEO at Resolve said that the pandemic rapidly changed the way most businesses function, and leaders across industries have accepted that life will never be quite the same again. “Companies are rethinking how they will operate, inventing new ways to serve their customers, redesigning core business processes, and, above all, embracing digitisation as we increasingly rely on online channels in our day-to-day lives.

“Proactive organisations are carving out their place in this new normal with the realisation that disruption can occur at any time, and resilience is fundamental to their success — and very survival. The ability to overcome unforeseen challenges will determine which companies succeed and which fail. Meanwhile, the current economic crisis has compelled businesses to shave costs, reprioritise projects, and create a leaner business model for the long term. That’s where automation comes in.

“IT automation enables organisations to reduce overhead IT costs and helps teams do more with less by improving efficiency. From reducing alarm noise, onboarding staff, rolling out new technology, and curbing IT escalations to enforcing security best practices, the impact of IT automation on short-term and long-term profitability is substantial.

“Automation also helps insulate organisations from workforce fluctuations. Automated processes inherently encode tribal knowledge and best practices, which ensure businesses can keep critical systems up and running even if subject matter experts aren’t available. Through the power of automation, other staff members can leverage this captured expertise to execute processes confidently and safely, at scale.

“Ultimately, agility and resilience are critical to contend with the unexpected and thrive in this new business landscape. With the ability to increase productivity and flexibility, automation is already proving to be invaluable in addressing the immediate challenges facing organisations today, as well as positioning them to emerge stronger than ever from the current crisis.”


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