As the 19 July, so called ‘Freedom Day’ draws closer, it is expected that the legacy of home working will linger on, with many employers expected to adopt a hybrid approach to work.
Recent research by Hitachi Capital Business Finance surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,464 small business owners, asking where they worked during the pandemic, where they work currently and where they plan to work by the end of year, focusing particularly on four groups – home, hybrid, workplace and outdoors.
The research revealed significant regional variations throughout the UK, with some employers favouring the more familiar approach of home or hybrid working, whilst others were eager to return to pre-pandemic bustling offices.
advo takes a look at the results.
London highlighted perhaps the most interesting result. Just two fifths of small businesses based in the business hub of the UK are planning a return to the office by the end of this year, with the amount of people planning a remote or hybrid return to work almost matching the traditional office figure (39% vs 41%).
East of England
Around a third of small businesses in Eastern England (35%) are planning a full return to the office by the end of this year. This is significantly lower than parts of the country such Wales (49%), the North East (45%) and the West Midlands (45%). 63% of small businesses in the East of England currently favour remote working; this is expected to drop to 52% by December 2021. Although a considerable drop, this is still higher than the 41% national average.
The North East bucks the trend in the other regions, with those surveyed in this region having a marked preference for the other three methods, a trend which continues until the end of the year. This is against the grain of the nation at large, which would suggest hybrid working is not something which people have settled into in this region.
Scotland currently tops the nation with the highest percentage of people either home or hybrid working (63% vs 58% national average). Whilst this figure is due to fall quite significantly by the end of this year (46%), it is still true to say that there will remain more small business employees sticking to the new methods of working that emerged as a consequence of the pandemic than those returning to the office.
Wales goes against the grain of the UK, beating other locations as the region most keen to return to the office – with nearly half of those surveyed planning to revert to pre-pandemic working arrangements. Wales also had the sharpest decline in home and hybrid working out of all the regions asked.
These results show a clear difference in the future approaches to work from region to region – while some small businesses are ready, willing and eager to return to a bustling workplace setting, others are likely to feel more comfortable sticking with the home working approach that was forced on the nation in March 2020, and has since become the new normal.
Many businesses, as do we at advo, intend to “get the best of both worlds” by adopting a hybrid approach. This allows employees to harness the clear benefits of working from home, whilst also re-connecting with the office and pre-pandemic working.
Original article here.