Office, home or hybrid?

Debbie Granville addresses the new phenomenon of home-working…

Home working is here to stay and the end of the five-day-a-week office commute will change the shape of cities dramatically.

That’s the rather stark view of former Bank of England deputy governor Sir Charlie Bean. And he certainly seems to be echoing the thoughts of some of the country’s biggest employers.

Nationwide Building Society has just announced it will give its 13,000 office employees control to decide where they work.

While British Gas owner Centrica, NatWest Group and outsourcer Capita have also confirmed they will be moving their workforces to ‘hybrid’ working – part home, part office.

Before Covid only 1.54 million people worked from home for their main job – just 6% of the number who do now in lockdown.

Ten years ago this figure was a mere 884,000.

Flexible working has long been seen as the idyll when it comes to both employee happiness and productivity, in some cases it’s even been cited as preferable to a pay rise. And Covid turned it overnight from a pipe dream to an enforced reality.

Home working is deemed to bring a raft of benefits including improved work-life balance, increased job satisfaction and productivity.

However, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea – or trip to the water dispenser.

Take younger people who might still live with their parents.

Or single people who live alone.

A shocking 30.9% of remote workers say that they struggle with loneliness when working remotely.

Some of us might be enjoying our bijou new office spaces. But others are consigned to a dark corner in their parents’ back bedroom.

And let’s not forget the great many people who simply like going to work and being part of a lively team or office environment.

The popular view is that Hybrid is the way to go – all the benefits of working from home, while still feeling relevant, in touch and part of a productive team.

But when it comes down to it, surely the most desirable option is being able to choose the best working option for you.

Whichever way you decide, Sir Charlie Bean does have some really good news:

“While our towns and cities will no longer be the business centres they once were, they will instead turn into thriving ‘entertainment’ centres.”

Drinks after hybrid work anyone?