UK Businesses Have Been Slow to Move Back to the Office

Work from Home illustration

Filed under - Industry Insights,

A recently conducted survey reveals that UK businesses have been slow to move back to the office post lockdown. It also indicates that a single clear model for optimising hybrid (home/office) working has yet to emerge. 213 business professionals responded to the October 2021 online poll.

43 percent of people responding to the poll said that between 0 and 25 percent of their employees had returned to the office since lockdown ended – with just 20 percent of respondents stating that between 76 and 100 percent of employees had returned.

“According to our poll results, the return to the office seems to be a lot slower than many commentators predicted,” said Mark Walton, CEO, Sensee.

“What isn’t clear, though, is why. Could it be because of concerns over employee welfare? Operational difficulties relating to maintaining social distancing? Employees’ desires to continue to work from home? Or indeed a combination of all these, plus other factors.”

The poll suggests that there is no single winning template for organisations when it comes to establishing a best-in-class hybrid operation.

When asked: “How does your business currently operate hybrid working?” the most popular answer was “Flexibly between home & office (with employees deciding where they work on any day)”.

This was selected by 33 percent of people. The second most popular answer was “Set days at home and set days in the office”, selected by 21 percent of respondents. But no hybrid model seems to be the overwhelming winner at this time.

The third poll question asked: “What is the biggest issue you’ve faced since moving to hybrid ‘home/office’ working’ post lockdown?” 41 percent of people indicated issues relating to “management/comms/training” while 34 percent pointed to “pastoral care (mental health concerns, isolation worries etc.)”.

And finally, when asked: “What is the biggest benefit you expect to realise from hybrid ‘home/office’ working?” 36 percent of respondents said “Better employee engagement/productivity” while 29 percent said “Reduced attrition/absenteeism”.

“The picture of hybrid (home /office) working painted by the poll is very mixed,” continues Mark Walton. “A move back to the office has started, albeit slower than many people predicted. The hybrid models used by organisations are many and varied.

“And the most common hybrid challenges to date relate to management/comms/training and pastoral care. Yet the poll shows that many organisations see hybrid working as a way to improve employee engagement/productivity and reduce attrition & absenteeism.

“While operational cost is clearly a concern, ‘people’ issues – from employee engagement to recruitment, attrition, absenteeism and mental health & well-being – appear to dominate organisational thinking when it comes to implementing hybrid strategies.”

View the poll results infographic

Published On: 1st Nov 2021 - Last modified: 25th Jan 2023
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