• Office workers highlight importance of the office for learning and networks
• Home working poses problems for young workers

New independent polling commissioned by the British Council for Offices (BCO), suggests that, once Government measures allow, Britain is set to move to a ‘mixed’ working style, with time in the office balanced with time at home.

The survey, which polled over 2,000 office workers nationwide, took place prior to new Government measures and found an appetite to get back to the office.

Asked about how they planned to work for the next six months, almost half of office workers (46%) intended to split their work between home and the office, while 30% were set for a full, five-day-a-week return to the office. Office sceptics appear to have been silenced, though, as only 15% of respondents planned to only work from home.

These plans may be put on hold for now, given new Government guidance, but the survey suggests a new approach to how we intend to work in the medium-to-long term.

What’s more, our new hybrid habits span hierarchies. At the top end, 62% of C-suite respondents planned to split their time between the home and the office, while 58% of trainees aimed to do the same.

Potentially uninspired creatives were particularly keen to return to the office. Only 7% of marketeers planned to work from home full time over the coming two quarters, making them the least keen profession to stay home, with 62% of this group stating they enjoy the creative exchanges that occur in the office.

The survey also found that most office workers did return to their office in August, with 64% having spent some time in the office since August 1st, and almost a quarter (24%) having worked a full week back at their desk.

Home working poses problems for young workers

Respondents also highlighted the importance of the office to career development, with 71% stating that the office is important for developing networks and learning. Meanwhile, 65% said their career has been helped by relationships forged in the office and 71% agreed the office is important for forming connections with colleagues.

As a new generation of graduates enters the working world, this suggests remote working may cause difficulties for young employees, who are yet to form networks and arguably gain most from seeing how their colleagues work.

Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the British Council for Offices, said:

“Our way of working is changing, and a new, mixed working approach is becoming popular. This does not mean the end of the office. The office is valuable for career development, which relies on forming networks and the informal lessons that come from watching senior colleagues operate. This is particularly true for young people, who would suffer if working from home ever became totally predominant.

“The coming months and years are an opportunity to reimagine the office and its purpose. It is time for Britain return to the office, but doing so doesn’t mean a return to how we used to work. Let’s embrace the change.”

Matt Flood, Head of Occupier Markets at Landsec, said:

“The pandemic has triggered a huge acceleration in the trends which were already underway such as a greater emphasis on flexibility, wellbeing and sustainability. The future of work will be around choice where the office forms part of a wider ecosystem of physical and digital spaces

“This research, which supports our own customer insight, shows that the role of the office will evolve to be focused on driving collaboration, learning and innovation and so the spaces and products we design need to support these tasks whilst offering the opportunity for businesses to express their brand and culture.”

The polling was conducted by Toluna, an independent market research agency, and took place between 3rd – 7th September 2020.