Office loses dominion in East as companies adopt ‘hybrid’ approach

Inside the offices of Haven Power in Ipswich Picture: VISMEDIA/DANIEL JONES

A Grant Thornton study suggests workers in the East will work partly from home and partly in the office in future Picture: VISMEDIA/DANIEL JONES - Credit: Archant

The office is set to be displaced in East of England work culture as mid-sized businesses reject old working norms, a new survey has revealed.

Research by accountancy giant Grant Thornton shows just 4% of mid-market businesses in the region expect their workers to return to the office full-time in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Many are opting for a home-work hybrid instead.

A majority of companies surveyed (88%) said a hybrid of remote and office working would be most effective for their workers — with 40% expecting staff to spend more time working remotely than in an office.

But workplaces remain a key part of working life — with just 8% anticipating a shift to full-time remote working.

Nearly two thirds of employers (62%) expect to make changes to their office or workspace to ensure it is fit for purpose.


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The study suggests staff retention is a key driver for the shift to hybrid working with 72% responding employees’ expectations of flexible working options post-pandemic.

Employers are concerned about three key aspects of home working — citing mental wellbeing (51%), managing junior staff (53%) and loss of productivity (42%) as their top three qualms.

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As a result, most of those surveyed (86%) plan to invest more or the same amount in employee wellbeing services over the next six months.

James Brown, partner and practice leader at Grant Thornton in the region, said: “It’s clear that remote working will play a much bigger role than ever before in the way we work, following the profound disruption of the last 12 months. The role of the office is set to change for many businesses in the east – reducing in its importance for a significant proportion.

“For some this will be driven by the chance to reduce overheads. But for others, the switch to a remote-first model is likely to be motivated by the battle for talent, as they look to maintain a competitive edge in a new climate where choice of employer is no longer restricted by location in many sectors.

“Our research shows that proactive businesses are actively considering how best to re-configure their workspaces to facilitate the collaborative activities, meetings and training opportunities which they will remain crucial for.

“Mental wellbeing and maintaining productivity are among employers’ key concerns in this new dynamic and it’s encouraging to see that many plan to increase their investment in wellbeing initiatives. Employee engagement will be key – businesses that adapt and listen to the changing requirements of their people will be best placed to attract and retain talent.”


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