Are Hybrid Working Practices On the Decline?

In a recent survey of 15,000 workers and employers, recruitment agency Hays found that more workers were office based than hybrid or remote, throughout the workday week, for the first time since the pandemic.

The survey’s findings showed that 43% of employees had been working from the office 5 days a week between August and September 2023, compared to around 39% who were hybrid working and 19% who were working remotely. This is a turn-around when compared to figures presented by Hays in 2022 where the opposite was true with 43% of people utilising hybrid working and 36% working exclusively from the office.

Office Based

According to the Hay’s survey 57% of UK workers would accept a job which was purely office based, while 43% said they wouldn’t. It’s important to note that these are averages and there is a regional divide in the responses of workers across the UK.

Around 67% of workers living in the north west of England said they would accept a job which did not offer hybrid working compared to just 44% of those working in London. The Hay’s report also found that in the south east around 40% of people are already fully office based. In the east of England, the number climbs to nearly 50% whereas in London less than 30% of people are back to full time office working, the lowest level in the UK.

An End To Hybrid Working?

In a CEO Outlook 2023 Survey carried out by KPMG which polled 1,325 CEO’s of businesses with over $500 million in revenue, 150 of which were UK based, it found that 64% of global CEOs and 63% of UK CEOs were planning a pre-pandemic full time return to office working by 2026. The survey also highlighted that 87% of global leaders and 83% of UK leaders believed that a move back to office-based work could be incentivised through financial rewards and the prospect of promotion.

The KPMG survey data is backed up by the fact that in the last few weeks many large companies have started to either phase out or pull back from remote and hybrid working in a move to get people back into the office. The Guardian newspaper reports that big technology businesses like Amazon, Google, Zoom and Meta as well as Citigroup ad Lloyds banks believe that “bringing teams together increases creativity and collaboration, as well as fostering a corporate culture.”

Does One Size Fit All?

Gaelle Blake, director of permanent appointments at Hays for the UK and Ireland said: “Organizations would prefer to have people in the office, but the workers themselves are saying that they wish to have flexibility.” Blake went onto say: “What employers need to understand is that everyone is different – some workers may thrive in an office environment, and some won’t. If employers are asking staff back to the office more – they need to question if they are doing it for the right reasons, such as facilitating more team building opportunities and offering an enticing work environment. Employers asking staff to come into the office more due to a lack of trust will struggle to retain staff going forward.”

This is echoed by Jon Holt, the chief executive of KPMG in the UK, who said there was not a “one-size fits all approach [to getting back to the office and any attempt] could create tensions between leaders and employers.”

Still A Need For Hybrid Working

Although the Hays survey has shown an increased appetite for a return to the office there is still evidence that there is also a need for hybrid working solutions.

According to Flexjob’s Career Pulse Survey employees are “heavily invested” in keeping or finding a remote of hybrid job. Of those that responded 87% stated that hybrid working would or had improved their work-life balance. 65% would prefer a 100% remote working arrangement, 32% a hybrid workplace and 57% stated they would look for a new job if they couldn’t continue to work remotely. Only 3% were looking to go back to the office.  

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 87% of people want to work flexibly. They also reported that staff are more likely to remain with a company if they offer flexible working, flexible workers have a higher job satisfaction, are more committed when compared to employees who do not work flexibly and they are also more likely to be engaged “potentially generating 43% more revenue and improving performance by 20%, compared to disengaged employees.”

A survey of 1500 office based workers carried out by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that 90% of those surveyed said flexible working options were important when looking for a job. The survey also established that employees were 2.5x more likely to “vote with their feet” if they were unhappy with their working conditions when it came to work flexibility.

In a previous article we discussed the findings of the The New Era of Hybrid Work Steelcase report which found that hybrid, remote and office working still all have their part to play moving forward. Steelcase points out that it’s important to address the needs and expectations of employees before making decisions regarding hybrid and full time working practices in order to ensure employee health, wellbeing and morale as well as safeguarding employee retention and recruitment.

Finding the right balance between working remotely and working in the office will be important. Global workplace consultants AWA, article Hybrid working – what’s the optimum number of days in the office? attempts to address this question. According to AWA’s Hybrid Working Index Survey which studied the responses of 49 companies with 155,000 employees, workers typically used the office on average 35% of the time. However, as AWA points out the amount of time required to work at the office needs to be flexible dependant on the nature of the work being carried out e.g., “It is possible to achieve high productivity and high engagement with low levels of office attendance, i.e., up to 20% in-office attendance. However, where there is a need for high levels of close collaboration, then the attendance rate may need to be 60% or more.”

JBH Refurbishments, Experts In Office Design and Refurbishment

JBH Refurbishments have over 30+ years’ experience in office design  and office refurbishment and fit outs. We can advise on all aspects of your Kent or London office refurbishment. To find out how we can help you design your hybrid Kent or London office space to the highest standards contact us via our contact form or by calling us on 0333 207 0339.

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