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Can We Go Back To Five-Day Working Weeks?

There’s no doubt that the past year has been one of the strangest in modern history; and it has affected the way we live, communicate, how we work and where we work.

The ‘work from home’ culture has been widely embraced, and although the presence of colleagues physically has been missed; can we really see ourselves going back to working five-days-a-week in the office?

Various organisation such as Google, announced that they will not be rushing employees back to the office, as they hope for a September 2021 return– testing a new model.

This model is testing the productivity of employees under flexible working, once they’re safe to return to the office. Google employees would work three days in the office and the rest of the week at home under the new plan.

Although Britons are anxious about returning to the workplace full time, the government are introducing steps to re-open society, and hopefully see people want to return back to the working space.

In a study by Bupa in 2020, research revealed that (at the time) 65% of Britons were anxious about returning to the office. The study of 2,000 adults found that people in Wales are the most anxious, with over 75% expressing concerns. The biggest concern at the time was social distancing in the office.

Fast-forward into 2021, and employees are still hesitant about returning to the office if no flexible working arrangements are made.

A study by HR software company Personio, found that 29.2% of respondents say they were offered no opportunities to work from home during the pandemic, and 30.6% of respondents were offered flexible working hours. On the flip side, employees have been satisfied with the support they have received working from home; 30.4% or respondents are ‘highly satisfied’ with support and 25.3% of respondents are neither satisfied or unsatisfied.

As the future of work seems to be heading in the direction of a remote focus, will employers who are reluctant to offer flexible working, find it difficult to attract or maintain employees?

Why workers would want to return to the office

Although there are clear perks to working remotely, there are also reasons why employees may want to return to the office; at least on a part-time basis. Productivity can be tricky for those who do not have a natural setup at home, such as a ‘home office’ and finding a quiet place to conduct work duties can be a problem.

Zoom has been the go-to platform in the last year, to conduct numerous video conferencing calls to replace day-to-day meetings. But no matter how clear our camera and audio may be, video conferencing just isn’t same (if you also count technical mishaps).

Last Christmas was an unusual one; office parties and special event get-togethers were put on hold, which saw the social aspect missing. The company culture is important and businesses felt the impact of that greatly.

Dealing with distractions at home can also be one of the major issues. With kids being off school and family members also working from home, the likelihood of a ‘busy’ house is high.

The future of office working is unknown; and as employees look for reassurances on flexible working, businesses and organisations may have to adapt accordingly for the well-being of employees and to maintain productivity levels.

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