Recruitment Services | 4 MIN READ
Back in January, the UK government stated that the advice to work from home was no longer in place and people "should now speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office”. We take a look at what this means for employees wondering where this leaves them?
Employers now need to set the back to office agenda
Not so much out of the blue, but clear and decisive direction from the government. Employers, now need to consider whether the ability to continue offering a form of flexible working will help retain employees or cause unrest within the workforce?
Employees, now is the time you need to ask what the working future looks like?
For anyone working from home since the onset of the pandemic, is your employer now asking you to return to the office full time? If yes, how is that making you feel?
In March 2020, the government directed us to work from home, and in the two years since, we adjusted to this new way of working.
But now, with the government return to work position clearer, employers are looking at opportunities for bringing staff back to the workplace. Except, two years on, many people have adapted well to working from home and are not so keen on returning to a pre-pandemic working arrangement.
If you are being asked to return to the office full-time, it is likely there will be hybrid opportunities with other employers.
Emma Couling, Head of Recruitment
What ONS data tells us
ONS data from between 3 and 14 November 2021 showed:
- Only 67% of workers reported travelling to work
- 15% both worked from home and travelled to work
- 18% worked from home only.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk).
In reality, the information highlighted that the UK workforce was still a long way from returning to pre-pandemic daily commute levels.
There are pros and the cons of home working
When the nation was forced to work from home, for many people, this presented an unexpected opportunity to trial the concept. Now people have grown used to the benefits of such a way of working, including:
- Spending more time at home
- Less time commuting
- Opportunity to see children/pets more
- Having the opportunity to explore new hobbies
And now, if employers insist on staff returning to the office, these benefits will be lost. But going to the workplace does have its advantages. including:
- Human interaction
- The quick chats that often lead to ideas
- The 'Good Mornings'
- Seeing people face-to-face
- Getting away from the house, and a scenery change.
As a full return to work is championed - what do employers need to do?
As "working from home" job ads rise and requests to work from home (flexible working) become more frequent, employers need to reassess their way of working to attract good talent. The hybrid form of working is not without challenges. Two central questions that need asking:
- How will employers manage to keep people feeling safe? (after all, the virus has not just disappeared)
- How will employers manage a hybrid force meeting, some in the office and some at home?
As 2022 progresses, there will be a period of testing, learning, and adapting to the hybrid work method. The learnings and technology improvements of the last two years will enable a pathway that suits both employers and employees and brings both worlds' benefits together.
From an employee safety perspective, we are lucky that our offices are spacious allowing people to socially distance and appropriate precautions are in place to ensure that people feel safe if they do choose to come in. Our team members are important to us and we will continue to put people first, as a family run business it’s important to us that our people know we care.
Adam Stafford, Founder
It's a fine line, here's where we are at
We are continually monitoring our return-to-work policy. At the moment, we are continuing with a flexible/hybrid approach, and that is, our team members can continue to work from home or choose to work from the office three days a week.
Currently, we don't foresee returning to a mandated five day a week office base. Our team members (like many others up and down the country) have demonstrated over the last two years how hard they continue to work while enjoying the benefits of home working.
A flexible future seems the most logical way forward. As an employer, we understand that having this option available is beneficial to long-term mental health, and it's great to see people back in the office after what seems like a long two years away.