In March 2020, many workers were required to work from home full time due to the pandemic. Businesses scrambled to put in place effective remote working processes and tools and we became all too familiar with the phrase “You’re on mute!”. However, while this change seemed strange and new, pre-pandemic there was already a significant desire within the workforce for some form of remote working. But a study conducted by Strathclyde Business School shows how high that desire is now. 78% of respondents to their study said they would prefer to work in the office for only two days or less. As in so many other areas of business, Covid-19 has caused an acceleration in something that was already occurring.
Remote working gives workers more control over their time and cuts down on the often lengthy, expensive and stressful daily commute. It can be particularly helpful to those who have to balance family and work, giving a chance for greater involvement in local community activities that create a sense of connection and wellness. Employees who have care roles can also manage their time more effectively. However, this doesn’t mean that the workforce wants to work from home permanently. In fact, only 31% of respondents to the Strathclyde survey said they did. Employees perceive significant benefits to having both time in the office and time at home.
The hybrid working social scene
There is a social aspect to work which is missed when you work from home permanently. You can’t have a casual coffee or catch up on the latest news, things which workers value. And it can be tough to work as a team when you don’t see people face-to-face and can’t simply drop by their desk to ask a question. In addition, some people find difficulty switching off from work. When the laptop is in the corner of your bedroom it’s tempting to just fire off that last email or finish off that document, resulting in long hours and added stress. One troubling survey has even found that 57% of people felt more stressed working from home than in the office. A hybrid working model addresses these issues by combining the best of both worlds.
Hybrid working business benefits
There are also benefits to the business. A potential reduction in the need for physical office space has enabled businesses to re-assess their investments in property, a significant business cost. Many companies are now planning to cut their office space – with Lloyds planning to cut their footprint by 20%, for example. Significant reductions in bills, maintenance and staff costs created by a hybrid working model will create real financial benefits.
Businesses will also now have access to more diverse, expert staff. Hybrid working enables recruitment from further afield, with staff who are happy to commute for part of the week, but who would not have been comfortable with 5 days of long-distance travel. And the staff businesses do have may be easier to retain, since remote working is seen as a significant staff benefit.
With benefits to business costs and increases in staff recruitment, satisfaction, and retention, it’s clear to see that hybrid working is the future.
This guest blog post is brought to you by Cotswold (who have a handy guide on working from home) and Bramer Media.