Does anyone want to go back into the office?

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Date: 6 April 2021

A new survey has found that millions of Brits would rather carry on working from home even when the government says it's safe to go back into the workplace.

A poll of 1,000 UK employees by InstantPrint has found that opinion is divided when it comes to views on returning to the office. But the overall trend is clear - most people are reluctant to go back into their workplace.

Respondents were asked when they believed they would feel ready to head back into their usual place of work. The findings show that:

  • 36% of those still working from home would love to work full-time from home forever;
  • 24% are keen to go back to the workplace part-time but working the majority of the week from home;
  • 20% said they are more than ready to get back into their workplace right now;
  • 14% don't want to return until June 2021;
  • 7% said they would not be ready to get back into their workplace until 2022;
  • 8% said they would never feel comfortable going back into the office - representing around 2.5 million UK employees.

When it comes to worries about returning to the workplace, 10% said that having to leave their pet at home is one of their biggest concerns and 16% admitted that they would have less time to get chores done.

However, many of those polled also said that they are missing aspects of their usual working life, including small talk (33%), the social side of work-life (31%), general gossip (31%), taking a proper lunch break (26%) and the tea/coffee round (24%).

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is calling on employers to offer hybrid working arrangements as lockdown restrictions ease. Its new survey of 2,000 employers suggests that more businesses are seeing the productivity benefits of staff working from home.

Employers are now more likely to say that the shift to homeworking has boosted productivity (33%) than they were in June 2020 (28%). Overall, more than two-thirds (71%) of employers say that the increase in homeworking has either boosted or has made no difference to productivity.

The findings are part of a new CIPD report exploring how organisations can learn from ways of working during the coronavirus pandemic. The study shows that 63% of employers plan to introduce or expand hybrid working. Almost half (48%) also plan to expand the use of flexi-time in recognition that not everyone can work from home but they should be able to benefit from flexible working arrangements.

The CIPD is calling for organisations and the government to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees through its #FlexFrom1st campaign.

"The pandemic has shown that ways of working that previously seemed impossible are actually possible," said Claire McCartney, CIPD senior policy adviser for resourcing and inclusion. "Organisations should take stock and carefully consider how to make hybrid working a success, rather than rushing people back to their workplace when there are clearly productivity benefits to homeworking."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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