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The changing nature of work

Engagement | Benefits

Posted on: Wednesday July 06, 2022

by Andrew Walker, New Business Development Director

A few months ago, the UK Government triumphantly announced an end to all Covid-19 restrictions. Our corner of the world was ordered to return to "normal". Transitioning to working from home was relatively easy for some sectors but returning to the office was expected to be fraught with more difficulties. Undeniably the pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the way we work.

The pandemic itself was many things: isolating, frustrating and at times frightening. Suddenly everything changed overnight with many office-based employees told to pack up their desks and work from home. Most of those people could not have anticipated that almost 2.5 years later, some of them still have not returned to the office. For companies around the world, the choice to return or indeed not return to the office has been a source of much debate. 

A permanent goodbye to the office 

While some organisations and their people yearned to return, others shuttered their doors in favour of working from home permanently. One of the key drivers was saving money. During the height of the pandemic, thousands of once busy office buildings stood hauntingly empty. With staff safely sheltering at home, it became increasingly difficult to justify the cost of keeping these spaces open. Especially for businesses based in expensive, high-rent locations closing the office and eliminating the associated costs altogether made sense for their bottom line. It must be noted that the ability to work remotely does depend entirely on the function of a company and how effectively staff are able to maintain a consistent  output. Pre-pandemic, tech jobs and the wider industry had a recognisable remote working culture, which may explain why some tech giants including Twitter, Microsoft and Dropbox have championed this shift. [2] As global leaders, it will be fascinating to see which companies and indeed sectors follow suit. 

Equally some employees have also championed remote work because of its cost-saving benefits. With the recent cost of living crisis, the UK is facing increasing costs on nearly all fronts: food, energy bills and  transportation. The cost of returning to the office is being called into question. As a result, employers are increasingly under pressure to support their employees with their financial wellbeing and make a compelling case for in-person work. 

The case for hybrid working 

Decidedly less divisive, hybrid working models have gained popularity over the last few years. With many touting them as the future of work. It’s also been reported that 59% of workers in the UK prefer to work in a hybrid model which indicates a definitive change in the way workers view work.[3] Pre-pandemic working from home was rare. The proportion of people reporting that they worked exclusively at home rose staggeringly from 5.7% of workers in January/February 2020 to 43.1% in April 2020 and, even though it had fallen by June 2020, it remained high at 36.5%. [4] In the future, the way we work will continue to evolve, and employers must adapt accordingly in order to keep pace.  

A hybrid working model is flexible and offers a compromise for employees and employers alike and there lies its success. Whichever route businesses choose to take, employee benefits are needed for all. Staff based full time in the office and those based at home or even those splitting their time will have slightly different requirements. Flexibility is the key consideration. 

To discuss your employee benefits proposition, contact our benefits experts, who are ready to help employers thrive in a constantly changing environment. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for weekly thought leadership straight to your inbox.

 

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