The future is flexible: UK’s largest employers confirm full time office work has been replaced by hybrid structures

May 7, 2021

The role of freelancers and consultants post-pandemic.

Chris Biggs, Partner at accounting and consultancy disruptor Theta Global Advisors and Justin Small, CEO and founder of Future Strategy Club discuss the future of the office.

Today, the BBC have revealed research showing that of the top 50 employers in the UK, 43 will be embracing a mix of home and office working as we leave lockdown with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week. With companies from huge corporations all the way to SMEs adopting such policies over lockdown, both employers and workers across the country have seen the benefits of flexible and hybrid working structures.

However, as we return to ‘normalcy’, tensions are starting to arise dependent on individual experiences over lockdown and policies employers are approaching with. With many employers such as British Airways and HSBC cutting office space by up to 40%, hybrid structures are very much in the future of office and working culture, and those failing to adapt will likely lose out on top talent and fall behind. 

Justin Small, CEO and Founder of Future Strategy Club, comments on the nation’s sentiments towards work: 

“Lockdown and the way that we see work has changed immeasurably and surprisingly quickly throughout the course into 2021. Working from home and flexible working was already growing in popularity but the past year has put that growth on steroids. COVID showed all the worse parts of the traditional working structure so it is not surprising so many people have wanted to make changes to their environments permanently. 

Companies need to be careful to accommodate their employees’ needs and concerns, otherwise talented individuals will be drawn towards going it alone or jumping ship, causing repercussions for businesses that may be on the edge of surviving and going under. If people are looking to go freelance, self-employed or become a full-time consultant, consultancy agencies are a great alternative to going it alone straight away. It wouldn’t be surprising if 2021 becomes the year of the mass exodus from the 9-5 and towards self-employment.”

Key takeaways from Future Strategy Club’s data shows that:

  • 58% of Brits feel that hybrid working will be the most popular method of working post-lockdown
  • 43% of Brits agree that flexible hours are the most important thing when choosing a job

This shift, while necessary, must also come in a tailored manner to match individual experiences as for some, working from home is ideal, but for others, can be detrimental.

Theta Global Advisors, an accounting and consultancy disruptor has conducted research on employee experiences and how flexible practices are not only wanted, but expected.

Key stats:

  • 57%of workers want to choose where to work to be the most productive
  • Over a third (34%) of UK workers have seen their workplace’s headcount decrease and their workload increase in the last 12 months

(nationally representative research carried out across a body of 2100 respondents, in full compliance with British Polling Council guidelines)

Chris Biggs, Partner at Theta Global Advisors – an accounting and consultancy disruptor – comments on the nation’s adoption of hybrid working:

“To ensure people are at their happiest and most productive, flexibility is needed in both where and when they work. Freedom from the office must also mean freedom to go to the office to account for different experiences, priorities, and conditions. 

Employers adopting new policies for part time working from home as we leave lockdown will account for substantial differentiations in their employees’ experience of working during Covid-19. However, greater flexibility is still needed to account for different experiences and resources. While some employees will relish a blended approach, others will want to be in the office 100% of the time, while others will want the complete opposite, and companies need to account for this on a case-by-case basis. Working environments are looking like they will never return to what they were in 2019, changing very much for the better but for the best impact on employee’s lives and their productivity we need to go that little bit further.  

In our adaptation to flexi-working, we have shown that we can work remotely, but this has also highlighted the positives for many of going to the office and the vital function the office plays in our economy and society. Some people will require access to an office for personal space, effective equipment, or internet, but others may not have these issues, and might have familial commitments or simply enjoy working from home more.

As such, what we need is for businesses, organisations, and companies to follow the examples we’re seeing of more and more employers shifting to flexible working in the long term and catering to everyone in their flexi-working policies – They must outline structured flexibility approaches to allow people to adapt as they need or want going forward”

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