Offices have reopened worldwide, and businesses have begun to reintroduce employees to the office. Many of these employees have worked remotely since March of 2020. During this time, employees have enjoyed the many benefits of remote working. Like spending time with family, spending less time and money on commuting, and a better work-life balance.
The return to the office comes with its challenges for employers, like ensuring the safety of all employees. For employees, there are concerns for safety, but also for something more. In a recent survey of UK office workers, Ronspot found that 44% of employees were afraid of losing the freedom of remote working. Remote working has been hugely beneficial for some employees. These workers have saved time commuting, saved money on travel, and have found themselves more productive at home. To give a better understanding of this statistic, we will breakdown the details of the survey.
In September, Ronspot surveyed 250 office workers in the UK in full-time employment. Those surveyed were aged between 23-55 years old with a household income from £35,000-£99,000 annually. Responses were recorded from workers in sectors like education, pharmaceuticals, marketing, government and public sector, healthcare and banking/financial. The aim of the survey was to understand the employees’ feelings towards flexible working (blended working), returning to the office, and their work preferences going forward.
The survey returned some interesting findings:
This includes 46% of employees who worked from home only since March 2020. The other 16% worked in the office only. The majority of these workers had no option, their jobs required them to be onsite.
The findings show how important flexible working is to many office workers in the UK. To breakdown this number further, 31% of respondents said they would prefer to work from home full-time until the end of the year. 30% said they would like to work from home at least 3-4 days per week. There is definitely evidence that remote working is important to consider for organisations.
- Working from home full-time
- Working from home 1-2 days per week
- Working from home 3-4 days per week
- Working onsite full-time
Another fear of office workers in the UK is their progression in the job. Just over half of the workers surveyed felt that working from home could hinder their job progression. This is something organisations must consider when allowing workers to flexibly work. Managers and supervisors may need to reassure their employees that flexible working will not hinder their job progression. Otherwise, employees may feel the need to work onsite – which does not suit all workers preferences.
What does the survey findings mean for managers?
The survey findings offer some valuable insight to office workers feelings in the UK. Furthermore, these insights can be used by employers and organisations to ensure the happiness of their workers. Using this information, the key takeaway points from this survey are:
⚪ Employees want flexible working
Firstly, the findings of this survey outline clearly that employees want flexible working arrangements in their job. If the closure of offices taught us anything, it is that remote working is possible in the majority of office jobs. Throughout the pandemic, companies maintained their culture and team spirit through virtual huddles, Zoom quizzes, and team messengers like Teams and Slack.
Now, companies can encourage employees to work flexibly. This flexible working means that employees can spend a few days each week in the office. Therefore, the flexible workers will still embrace the culture of working in the office, without feeling like they are missing out. Flexible working also means employees can spend less money on transport and commuting. Moreover, workers can spend less time commuting and more time doing things that they enjoy – like exercising, spending time with family and friends, and taking time out to look after themselves.
⚪ Employees need reassurance
Secondly, the findings indicate that employees need some reassurance. Employees are afraid of losing the freedom of remote working as well as fearing for their job progression. To ensure that employees fears are minimised, organisations should address them.
For example, team leads should affirm that employees will be allowed to have flexible working arrangements in place. Additionally, these employees will be given an equal opportunity to progress in their job. It is important to highlight that although these workers will spend less time onsite, they will be as much a part of the organisation as their co-workers.
Without any reassurance, employees will continue to fear the loss of remote working freedom. This can cast doubts for employees and potentially encourage them to find jobs where flexible working is welcomed. Employees should be well informed on company policies centred around flexible working. Similarly, employees need reassurance that should they choose to work remotely, this will not hinder job progression.
⚪ Create the culture when remote working
To ensure that employees embrace flexible working and are still reassured in their role, company culture is critical. This means organisations will have to maintain the culture as employees work from home as well as onsite. For most companies, this will be no problem as they have managed to do so for the past 18 months. However, for some it will be difficult.
Some employees will have chosen to work from home only since the pandemic. For them, the return to the office is a challenge. Once again, they must change their habits. However, by having a strong company culture both remotely and onsite, employees can benefit greatly. This way when working remotely, the employees will feel included. Furthermore, when they are working onsite the bond between employees will be strong too.
This strong office culture will contribute positively to the overall working environment and the mood in the company. We all know positive workers is good for business.
Tips for managing flexible working
Some organisations may be choosing to start flexible working for the first time. If you find yourself in this situation, we have some tips which will help.
Flexible workers have a lot of responsibility. They are given the choice to work from home or in the office day to day. When working from home employees must be trusted to perform their daily tasks. Without this trust, the relationship between flexible workers and their managers and supervisors will be fragmented. By trusting the team to get the work done, the morale will be higher. Happy workers are known to be more productive.
Communication is the most important part of flexible working. Although employees are not in the office, they are available to talk through messenger, email, or video call. Throughout the pandemic, workers managed to stay connected online, things should be no different now. Communication works both ways. If one side is communicating poorly, the business suffers. Therefore, employees and managers should keep in touch daily. Whether it is just to check-in and say hello, or ask for a quick update, it’s important to keep that communication flowing.
3/ Remote Working Setup
A remote working setup is important for flexible workers. This means providing them with the same equipment they would have in the office. For some jobs, this may require a second monitor, Bluetooth keyboard, or wireless headset. Whatever it may be, it is important to make employees feel comfortable in their home office as well as on site.
Finally, employers may choose to manage their flexible working with a web solution like Ronspot. Ronspot is a system whereby employers can manage who works onsite and who works from home each day. The employees can book a space daily through an interactive booking calendar. The bookings are made in real-time so the office occupancy can be maximised. To further manage flexible working, employers can use the credit-based booking system. The credit system means employees are given a set number of credits each week or month. The employees can use the credits to book a spot in the office on a given day. Credit limits can be set, so employees may only be allowed to work a few days a week onsite. Ronspot has a range of other features to benefit flexible workers, which you can see here.
For more articles on flexible working and how to manage it, check out the titles below:
How to Encourage Employees to Come Back to the Office
How To Deal With Returning To Work Post Pandemic?
Prepare for a Phased Return to Work with a Blended Working Approach
Remember, reassure your employees that flexible working is here to stay. Make sure they are in good spirits and included even when working remotely.