Boris Johnson may be urging a return to the office, but it seems both bosses and workers are expecting working from home to remain part of our regular working routine.
Economists at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are carrying out regular surveys of workers across the Midlands to build up a picture of how people’s relationship with work is changing.
The poll asks hundreds of people question such as whether their work pattern is changing and if so, how - and how they feel about it. The first survey was done in October, and the second is being carried out next month (February).
Key findings include:
- The average worker currently spends 60% of their time working from home
- Workers expect to spend 40-50% of their time working from home post pandemic compared to 10-20% before the pandemic
- The push to work from home appears to be driven more by employers than employees, possibly because of cost savings
- People love the lack of commuting time, but miss socialising most
Professor Edward Cartwright, of DMU’s Institute of Applied Economics and Social Value, said: “There’s a lot of uncertainty over whether we will revert back to how things were before, or whether there really has been a step change.
“Everything we are seeing suggested it’s a big step change. The main headline result was that people expect to be working from home on some level forever. And what’s surprising is that this is largely being driven by the businesses, not the staff, as they see how they can cut costs.”
Prior to the pandemic, the average time spent working from home was a day a week. During the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions that became four days. In October that had shifted to 60% of the time working from home and 40% in the workplace.
Professor Cartwright added: “Our initial survey found that people expect it to level out at around 45%, and that will be permanent. However, people are not always the best at predicting the future so we want to track whether these assumptions are correct.
“These findings are all in line with other surveys that have been carried out on smaller scale in the East Midlands and nationally. However, what’s surprising is that these changes to working from home is being driven by the business rather than staff.
“Working from home is polarising – some people love it and others hate it. The most consistent negative is the lack of social interaction. Not many people have said the lack of good wifi for example, they miss their work friendships and seeing people in person.”
There are some signs of companies shifting into smaller workspaces, and reducing expensive offices as staff would not all be in the office at the same time.
“Clearly this also has implications for the city centre as businesses move to smaller premises, fewer people working in the city centre means lack of footfall which has knock on effects for retail,” added Professor Cartwright.
Posted on Wednesday 26th January 2022