According to the Office of National Statistics throughout April 2020, 46.6% of people in employment did some work at home. Of those who did some work from home, 86% did so as a result of the coronavirus pandemic*.
From January to December 2019, there were an estimated 1.7 million people in the UK who said that they work mainly from home; this represents just over 5% of the total workforce.
That’s 9 times the amount of people currently working from their homes than pre- COVID.
A recent survey also shows that 57% do not want to go back to a normal office environment with normal office hours.**
This means that a lot of companies are currently facing some tough questions – should we return to the office or not?
From speaking with a lot of our clients and candidates, the results are really quite split. Many are gearing up to returning later this month (particularly for offices outside of London), but many have also said that they have no plans as of yet to return to an office environment.
Many companies are in the midst of consultations with staff about how and when people will return to their office.
Some are already back in the office two days a week, but that doesn’t mean they have dispensed with Teams and Zoom calls though; some are still having all meetings via video with someone sitting 20m away on the other side of the office!
But putting the immediate future aside, what does this time next year look like?
If 57% of your workforce wants to continue with some level of home working, then is trying to get employees back into the office every day the best move?
It’s no secret that flexible working has some serious benefits to business. Now that companies have been forced to adapt, and the infrastructure is in place for it to be considered a long term option, the companies that embrace the change are the ones who will thrive in the long term.
Aside from Finance Directors eyeing savings from reduced office costs, there are recruitment benefits to WFH as well. When it comes to recruitment increasing home working has three key benefits:
It’s what all companies are prioritising right now, and it’s long been the first thing that we have recommended to increase diversity. Allowing home working and flexible hours makes life easier for working parents or for people with dependents and is proven to attract more female candidates to roles.
Home working doesn’t just expand the talent pool on the diversity front. By having people work from home, you have just expanded the talent pool to cover the entire country. Locations that were previously un-commutable to your office are now accessible. You have a much larger talent pool to choose from.
We speak to a lot of candidates who, when they took on a role, thought a 90-minute drive every day was manageable. But after 2 years of a hellish daily commute and three months of working from home are now rethinking their options and their priorities.
By having the option to work from home all, or part of the week, you will hang on to those valuable employees who are only leaving because work life balance isn’t sustainable.
Not only this, but it is a perk that your competitors may not be offering. In the current economic climate, salary increases and bonuses will be tightened. Allowing your employees to work from home long term is an added benefit that won’t cost you more than the price of a laptop, and could save your employees thousands on train fares, petrol or time.
Increased working from home long term is a huge change, and it isn’t something that every business can realistically achieve, particularly within the transport & infrastructure sectors.
There is a lot of information floating around about when companies will be returning to the office, but it would be great to find out what the general consensus is for us, and our industries.
If you have a spare 2 mins to fill out this quick survey, I would be really interested to see what you and your company’s plans are at the moment.