Employers have yet to adapt to the flexible working revolution sweeping through the UK’s offices, according to new research from the University of Leeds.
More than 1,000 office workers across the UK were surveyed to understand how prepared employees and organisations felt for the return to the workplace through hybrid working.
Just 22% of participants reported that their offices had been redesigned to support hybrid working, and only 7% had received training in managing or participating in hybrid meetings, suggesting a training gap for effective hybrid working.
While most participants reported flexible working patterns at their workplace, only 31% were aware of a formal flexi-hours policy in their organization and just 21% knew of a formal hybrid working policy.
Dr Matthew Davis of Leeds University Business School said: ‘As COVID-19 social distancing restrictions have lifted, many of us are working flexibly; splitting our time in the office and at home. But this survey shows that employers are feeling their way through these changes – the majority are developing systems and practices as they go along rather than taking a planned, systematic approach. This is likely to lead to more disruption and change as employers establish what works and what doesn’t.’
Key findings of the study also included office workers expressing a preference for working more often from the office than home, with 28% of workers adding that they never or only occasionally had access to quiet workspaces at home and 36% not having a dedicated workspace at home.
The research also highlighted the unpopularity of hot desking, with more than 80% of interviewees saying they wanted to have an assigned desk rather than sharing with others.
Dr Matthew Davis said: ‘It’s well known that hot desking isn’t particularly popular, but the argument has previously been made that employees will grow to like hot desking given more time. Our survey suggests this is not the case – 43% of those we spoke to were already in workplaces where hot desking was used and still didn’t like it. This shows the need for change management and selling the vision of what hybrid workplaces provide to off-set loss of personal space.’
In related news, a new programme focused on helping young people aged 16-18 reach their full potential and enter the workforce is being launched by the Welsh government.
Photo by Nick Morrison