Tuesday 12 October 2021 8:30 am

Back to the office full-time? I'd rather quit say more than half of all Brits

The pandemic has changed the working landscape so drastically that flexible and hybrid work have become core benefits offered to many UK workers.

In fact, over half of British workers, or 52 per cent, would leave their job if they were forced back into the office full time, with 11 per cent saying they would quit on the spot.

Moreover, employees are coming to expect more from their employers, with a four-day workweek (42 per cent) and unlimited holiday (41 per cent) chosen as the top two benefits employed UK adults want that they don’t already have, according to data from experience management company Momentive, shared with City A.M. this morning.

Return to office hesitancy

Although the return to the office is well and truly underway, employers may want to be careful about instinctively returning to ‘old’ ways of working if they want to retain staff during what is now being dubbed the ‘great resignation’.

Fully 40 per cent of workers overall have admitted to being hesitant about returning to the office full time, with the number rising drastically to 60 per cent for workers who have been used to working on a hybrid or remote basis, the research found.

Employee preferences

It seems gone are the days of beer-on-tap and ping pong tables being used to lure the best staff.

In fact, having a bar in the office was singled out as the least desired benefit, with 65 per cent of employees saying it’s not a benefit they wanted or were offered.

Whilst a four-day workweek and unlimited holiday are the top two benefits employed UK adults want that they don’t already have (42 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively), there is also a wish for enhanced wellbeing support.

Mental health support was a benefit that doubled in popularity from just 17 per cent before the pandemic to 33 per cent during the pandemic. A quarter of workers are still keen to see this benefit introduced. 

Proximity bias is a concern

With the rise of flexible work, some staff are in the office and others are working remotely. Proximity bias—the idea that employees in close physical proximity will be perceived as better workers—is a concern.

When asked about proximity bias, 21 per cent of workers have worries about missing out on opportunities if they are working remotely.

Moreover, 25 per cent also admit that they ask the opinion of those they physically work with more than their remote colleagues.

Young workers are most concerned about proximity bias, with one in three (34 per cent) of 18- to 24-year-olds worried that working remotely will mean they have less of a say at work and miss out on opportunities, compared to just 7 per cent of 55- to 64-year-olds. 

The role of feedback

Along with offering flexible and hybrid work, one of the key elements that set employers apart during Covid-19 was how responsive they were to employee needs and feedback.

Although 69 per cent of hybrid UK workers say they have been asked for regular feedback during the pandemic, this number drops dramatically to just 41 per cent of  non-hybrid workers. 

Along with the increased adoption of flexible work, another net positive to come out of the pandemic for workers is an increased sense of ownership and agency.

Half (49 per cent) of employees agree that their employers listen to their feedback more than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, there is a concern that with the world moving towards a post-pandemic way of working, this increased influence will be curtailed.

One in five (18 per cent) of UK workers are worried their employer will not take their opinions into consideration when deciding on working policies in 2022, with 12 per cent concerned their employer will require a full return to the office next year.