The coronavirus pandemic inadvertently launched a large-scale teleworking experiment, in which many office workers were forced to work from home at night.
But now that more companies, including pubs and restaurants, are allowed to reopen their doors, companies are being urged bring employees back to the office – with PrimMinister Boris Johnson said “people should start thinking about going back to work.”
But do companies and their employees want to return to the office? And what will offices and work arrangements look like after Covid?
Smaller offices: 44% of companies consider reducing the size of their buildings
A survey of more than 2,000 companies around the world, including the UK, found that nearly half of UK companies are planning to downsize their offices in an effort to cut costs.
Working remotely, aided by Zoom conference calling, has been rated a success by some companies, who are now questioning the need for huge office buildings.
In light of this, and the opportunity it offers to cut costs, there are quite a few companies looking to downsize – 44 percent said they were considering shrinking their business space.
Recruitment agency Robert Walters’s report says shrinkage could be a workplace trend in the aftermath of Covid-19.
It says, “Some experts say the open floor plan could be redesigned to ensure worker safety. Others say the pandemic is the last straw for the open office.
“Aside from the health risks, workers who feel more productive to work from home might find it beneficial to move away from open office plans.”
It’s because the majority of employees want to work from home more often anyway.
According to Robert Walters, only 13 percent of office workers want to return to the office full-time, who also interviewed more than 5,000 employees who were made at home after the pandemic.
The other 87 percent of employees want more flexibility to work remotely, 21 percent of whom prefer never to go to the office.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pictured with Garrett Emmerson, general manager of the London Ambulance Service, said workers had to return to the office
Tom Stevenson, investment director for personal investing at Fidelity International, says we may have witnessed “five years of change in five months” when the pandemic brought up trends that may have occurred, but over a much longer time horizon.
“For many office workers and their employers, closing in March was an eye-opener,” he says.
The death of the office is probably exaggerated because we are social beings by nature. But the new approach will be much more flexible and varied.
Tom Stevenson – Faithful
“The ease with which work could be transplanted from office to home surprised many, and the few hours a day we’ve earned instead of commuting are very welcome. For some, the work will never be the same again.
“The death of the office is probably exaggerated because we are social beings by nature. But the new approach will be much more flexible and varied. And few will complain about that, ”he adds.
Another trend could be lower salaries in exchange for “softer benefits,” such as more flexibility to work remotely, the report said.
With all meetings going online during the block, nearly half of companies – 46 percent – plan to cut costs, including by cutting travel budgets and switching to virtual meetings instead.
Lucy Bisset, director of Robert Walters, said, “It is too early to say whether cost-cutting tactics will lead to a reduction in wages or bonuses, but such a freeze is likely to be offset by the increase in softer benefits such as flexi hours, welfare benefits and working remotely. ‘
Working from home: A fifth of employees would like to continue doing this and never go to the office again
However, the lack of numbers in the offices is a disaster for the High Street stores, which are already on their knees from buyers staying away from the pandemic.
While most companies – 83 percent – say they will consider getting people to work remotely more often, the report claims they still want people to go back.
However, it turned out that a third of companies have not yet considered what a return to work will actually look like.
Half of those who have thought about it plan to do so Spread job recovery based on workers’ own health risks related to Covid-19, with the least risky returning sooner than the more risky.
A similar percentage, 46 percent, will yield amazing returns for employees, depending on how important their role is to the company.
The next most popular strategy is the creation of smaller working groups, which are likely to be hired by 40 percent of companies, followed by changing working hours, a voluntary return scheme and unbundling of services.
More than a quarter of the companies have stated that they will base their return to work plan on local infection rates.
About 46% of companies plan to cut travel budgets and switch to virtual meetings instead
It’s because some companies, including accountant giant Deloitte and law firm Slaughter and May, have already admitted employees.
Goldman Sachs has staff returned to headquarters in London, but only 600 out of 6,000 employees accepted the offer.
And it has been found that 30 biggest employers in the City of London said they only plan to bring back up to 40 percent of their workforce to follow the two-meter social distance guidelines to stop the spread of the virus.
Bisset added, “Returning to the office brings many benefits, including social inclusion, better workplace collaboration, a separation from home life, and a strengthening of corporate values.
“What employers should do is combine the benefits of office life with what people enjoy working from home; for example – flex hours, a relaxed atmosphere and avoiding busy commute times. ‘
Employers were often reluctant to have staff work from home permanently because they were concerned about productivity, with nearly two-thirds of companies raising such concerns.
But half of employers so far said workers at home were as productive as they were in the office, with a third noticing a productivity boost and only a 13 percent drop.
But more than half of the bosses (57 percent) also said they preferred traditional ways of working, with a third citing the nature of the business, such as personal sales, as a major barrier to getting people home all the time let work .
Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we may earn a small commission. That helps us to fund This Is Money and keep it free. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow a commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.