Employers are recognising that in order to attract and retain the best people they have little alternative but to embrace home and hybrid working and the trend towards repurposing the office will continue.
The past year has seen campaigns from politicians and some sections of the British media to return to the old ways of full-time office-based work. Reports also show that many business leaders are yet to embrace fully hybrid working. KPMG’s 2022 CEO Outlook draws on the perspectives of 1,325 global CEOs to highlight their three-year outlook on the business and economic landscape. It found that attracting and retaining people is a top operational priority and that, while hybrid/remote working has had a positive impact on hiring, collaboration and productivity, the majority of CEOs want employees back in the office, reporting that 65% of CEOs see in-office as the go-to office environment over the next 3 years.
Resistance to the new ways of working, nonetheless, seems as destined to fail as King Canute’s legendry attempts to stop the tide coming in.
Data from the Office of National Statistics indicates that those splitting their time between home and the office increased the proportion of their working week worked from home in the ten months to February 2022. Most office workers are reported now to expect either to split their time evenly between home and the office or to spend most of their time at home. However, few expect not to spend at least a minority of their time in the office.
As employers work hard to attract reluctant staff back to the office this shift has prompted many to review the purpose and, therefore, the set-up of the office. Many fixed office spaces or even dedicated open plan spaces are being repurposed as spaces designed to enhance collegiality, connection and socialisation better to meet the needs of the workforce and the organisation. Reflecting this move, many offices are even being re-branded as collaboration centres to position the office space as a place to collaborate and connect.