Working from home is likely to remain after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, according to a survey of 2,000 companies in the UK, most of which are planning to allow employees greater flexibility on where and when they do their jobs.
Two-thirds of companies are developing a hybrid work model where people spend only part of the time in the office, said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a professional group for human resources staff.
About 71 percent of employers said having staff at home either boosted productivity or made little difference.
The findings add to the debate about what the workplace will look like once the UK drops its request for people to do their jobs from home if they can.
After previous lockdowns, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was aggressive in encouraging a return to office. Since then, working from home has become more entrenched, with many saying they want more flexibility.
“The pandemic has shown that ways of working that previously seemed impossible are actually possible,” Claire McCartney, senior policy adviser for resourcing and inclusion at CIPD, said in statement on Thursday.
The future of office work will have a major effect on how the economy rebounds from the biggest recession in three centuries, since city center shops and restaurants along with thousands of jobs rely on people going into the office.
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey has said that some amount of working from home would continue.
Another member of the bank’s monetary policy committee, Jonathan Haskel, said it is only media and technology workers that maintain productivity outside of the office.
A separate survey from the flexible working platform Indeed Flex showed that workers stepping up their job searches, anticipating the end of lockdown during the two weeks through March 12. In many cases, they are unlikely to return to the job they were doing before.
While there was a 98 percent surge in those looking for work as bar staff, a third of those using the platform switched their career out of hospitality and into industrial or facilities management. Searches for “picker” jobs working in warehouses and preparing items for shipment more than doubled.
“COVID-19 slammed the brakes on the UK job market and left many people wondering where to turn to next,” Indeed Flex CEO Jack Beaman said.
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