Employers and workers think hybrid is a better option
PM Boris Johnson and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak appear less than keen on WFH which has seen UK workforce swapping their office desk for the kitchen table over the past 12 months. In fact, a year on from the start of the pandemic, an estimated 60% are still working from home.
Speaking at a recent Network Rail event, Johnson said that “remote working won’t be the new normal” and that British people will be “consumed again” by wanting to meet people in person as the economy reopens.
Sunak has urged businesses to open their offices as restrictions are removed and said that employees would “vote with their feet” by jumping ship to rival firms if they were forced to work from home.
However, both the PM and the Chancellor’s assessment appears to be in sharp contrast to what employers think.
Employers prefer hybrid solution to WFH
According to a survey by Management Today, 64% of their readers disagree with the PM. Their poll shows that 72% are implementing a hybrid solution that offers employees a choice to work from home as well as office. Their survey also shows that 11% of employers are moving to remote working only.
This enthusiasm for WFH is also reflected across the tech sector. Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter have said that all staff would be given the option to work from home on a permanent basis.
Banking sector keen to get back to the office
However, there are businesses that appear to share PM’s sentiment. Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon said that working from home is an “aberration” and not the “new normal”.
With Goldman operating with just 10% of its estimated 34,000 workforce over the last 12, Solomon said “I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us. And it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible”.
Solomon’s industry sector colleagues appear to agree with him. JP Morgan’s boss Jamie Dimon said in September 2020 that working from home has had a negative impact on productivity. Similarly, Barclay’s boss Jes Staley expresses optimism that UK’s success in vaccination would allow employees to return to the office.
Whether we will divide our working hours between the office desk or the kitchen table, or choose one over the other, the future of the world of work will be very different as the economy is opened up over the coming weeks.