Can you believe we are almost eight months into 2021? And what a whirlwind it’s been.
Remember the days when we all thought that extra hour in bed on a Monday morning was going to be such a novelty as we plunged into remote working during the height of the pandemic?
Arguably, many workers are well and truly over this Monday morning perk. After speaking with so many peers, co-workers and company owners, many of us are craving a different view than the one we have had to endure for eighteen months.
We miss dressing up, having a purpose to leave our home and see friends and colleagues at the office.
So, while it is business as usual for many people working in schools, retail, construction, healthcare, and manufacturing (to name a few sectors), there are still tens of thousands of people, mainly office workers, who are still working from home. Some have not even been back to their desk since March last year.
When should we expect a return to the office?
Skillcast conducted a ‘Return to work’ survey and discovered that companies that employ more than 250 people were more likely to think it would be some time before they returned to the office.
42% of these larger company employees expected to be back last year and this year it has dropped to 30%. Surprisingly, only 13% of smaller companies think they will be back in the office this year, even with a hybrid working arrangement for those who commute long distances.
And a quarter of 4,000 office workers surveyed regarding remote working said they expect to return to their place of work by Autumn 2021, while 8% said they are likely (whether they want to or not) to continue working from home indefinitely.
How hybrid working will look like
The UK government told us that those who can work from home should be prepared to do so until at least autumn, well over a year from when the pandemic first struck hard.
The great news is that, following the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines, the situation is now moving on and, as we approach the peak of Summer, business leaders are now turning their attention to what a ‘return to the office’ could look like.
For most, a phased return to the office is the preferred option given and since the Government has now ended the mandatory ‘working from home guidance’ since July 19th, when all remaining lockdown restrictions were lifted.
However, it is unlikely to push for everyone to return to the office, as it controversially did last summer, instead, it will likely leave the decision in the hands of employers.
The balance between office and home working
With many workers who are still saying they would prefer to work from home at least one day a week, over a fifth said they were concerned about the risk of contracting Coronavirus on their commute, and 30% are worried about catching it at their place of work.
But, with the dramatic increase of mental health issues, including drinking, isolation, and anxiety, people need to consider the positive impacts returning to work will have also.
So, as most of us have waved goodbye to a Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 structure, we see a more flexible, stress-free, hybrid way of working that suit working mothers, out of town commuters, and those who may not feel comfortable just yet going into the office and mixing with people.
Let’s just hope we can all stay safe and move into a positive headspace so we can return to work and claim a little bit more normality in our lives.