While the UK Government intends ending all social-distancing measures in the country by June this year, a sizeable chunk of the workforce will likely continue to work from home – at least some of the time.
This is according to a survey done by the BBC, which found that almost all of the 50 big employers questioned do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time.
The broadcaster said these employers collectively represent around 1,1-million workers in Britain. The World Bank estimates the country has a workforce of around 34,7-million people.
A total of 43 of the businesses said they would embrace a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week.
Way of working has changed permanently
Four firms said they were keeping the idea of hybrid working – which means working from home some of the time – under review.
“We’re never going to go back to working the way we used to work,” Mark Read, Chief Executive of advertising firm WPP, told the BBC.
Danny Harmer, Chief People Officer at insurance company Aviva which has 16,000 UK staff, said 95 percent of its workers said they would like to be able to spend some of their time working flexibly and remotely in different locations.
But she added that the company had to be mindful that many staff appreciate being in an office. These include people who live alone or do not have a suitable place to work in their home environment.
In March, the UK arm of business consultancy PwC said it aimed to give employees flexibility as to the location that they work from and the hours that they work.
Staff should feel ‘trusted and empowered’
Its Chairman, Kevin Ellis, said flexible working should be the norm rather than the exception. “We want our people to feel trusted and empowered,” he explained.
But work-from-home doesn’t suit all office-based businesses, as Andrew Monk, Chief Executive of investment bank VSA Capital, emphasised in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live.
“People working from home don’t realise it but they’re gradually getting slower and slower, whereas the people in the office aren’t,” he said.
“In the financial services industry you need to discuss ideas and discuss what’s going on. People working from home miss out on an awful lot of the activity in the office because we don’t have time to tell them.”