Business leaders embrace hybrid working

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Date: 4 May 2021

Smiling employee working remotely from home. He is speaking on the phone.

A new poll of business directors has found that the majority plan to allow some remote working for their staff even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The survey of 583 business leaders, conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD), has found that 63% intend to shift towards one to four days of remote working per week. Just one in five say they are not planning to introduce any form of remote working; one in ten are now looking to work from home entirely.

It means that for most UK firms, a hybrid model is likely to be the way forward. Respondents were asked how may days they expected employees to be in the workplace in the long term. These were the results:

  • No remote working - 19%;
  • One day a week remote working - 11%;
  • Two days remote working - 24%;
  • Three days remote working - 20%;
  • Four days remote working - 8%;
  • Fully remote working - 11%.

The IoD also found that business leaders were split on whether working from home was more or less productive. Around four in ten said remote working was more productive, while 37% felt it was less productive for their work.

Commenting on the findings, IoD senior policy advisor Joe Fitzsimons said: "As the economy reopens, business leaders are grappling with the best working models going forward. The flexibility of remote working has improved work-life balance for employees and cut down commuting expenses. In many cases it has also boosted inclusivity and hiring from different parts of the country."

However, he said that remote working during the pandemic has not been without its challenges. "For business leaders, running a tight ship has not been easy without workforces in the same physical space. This is not helped by unreliable internet connections. Employee morale has also been affected with the loss of office camaraderie, and adjusting to new roles has been difficult for new staff."

The remote working model will not work for every business, said Fitzsimons. "However, many firms are also looking to cut back on office sizes, amp up home working, and make more use of co-working spaces. With varied preferences and different business models, directors are working closely with employees to find the most productive working arrangement. After a year of mixed experiences with remote working, it seems many business leaders are taking a hybrid stance into the future."

Written by Rachel Miller.