Only 5 per cent of firms expect staff in the office full time, says CBI

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93 per cent of firms plan to adopt hybrid working models, according to a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) report.

The work was undertaken in May 2021 by CBI Economics and Nexus, who received responses from 321 representatives of businesses across the UK. 

The report covers people’s experiences of remote working and how this is shaping employers’ plans. Although the office clearly maintains an important role in a post-Covid-19 world, it is only part of the picture. Only 5 per cent of businesses surveyed expect most of their staff to work entirely from a physical office in the future.

What's driving the shift to hybrid working?

Pandemic conditions aside, the reasons given for moving towards hybrid working include improving employee mental health and wellbeing (62 per cent of firms). Other motivations were to attract employees including from further afield (61 per cent), to be a more inclusive employer (60 per cent). Other firms recognised the environmental benefits (45 per cent) of less time commuting to offices and cost savings (38 per cent).

Percentage of working week expected to be spent working remotely. Photograph: CBI

Good for: Productivity boost 

Remote working has been positive for productivity overall. Half of the businesses said remote working had had a positive effect on productivity, with only 21 per cent citing a negative impact. Businesses generally found it easier to find time in a client or colleague’s diary when working remotely.

Half of the businesses said remote working had had a positive effect on productivity. Photograph: iStock

Bad for: Spontaneous ideas and innovation

Importantly, the remote working productivity boost was reported to have come at a price, notably in terms of innovation and creativity. Just over half of firms judged that remote/hybrid working negatively impacted their ability to be innovative, with only 22 per cent finding it easier. 70 per cent of businesses said that remote working had negatively impacted brainstorming and 83 per cent that it had negatively impacted those vital ‘water cooler’ moments, when spontaneous ideas are shared and new relationships formed.

Dr Martin Stow, Chairman and Nexus director, said: “Whilst it has been a difficult time, the pandemic has allowed some organisations to turn crisis into opportunity and this has been the mantra for many, as they have pivoted products and services to respond to fast-moving or new market needs.”

“The pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of technology and new working practices. We’re now seeing these changes taking effect, with only 5% of businesses planning to return to the office full time.”

Most firms surveyed were SMEs (with fewer than 200 employees) representing 63 per cent of responses. Firms were spread across sectors of the economy in a way that is broadly comparable to the wider UK business population.

The revolution of work report: A survey on the world of work post Covid-19 here




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