Commenting on a BBC survey that reveals that almost all of the UK's biggest employers say they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time, Professor Clare Kelliher, Professor of Work and Organisation at Cranfield School of Management, said:

“It is really encouraging to see that after the experience of staff being required to work from home, where possible, employers are looking at ways to open up opportunities for this type of flexible working as we move away from social distancing restrictions.

“However, employers shouldn’t rush to remove the workspace available to employees.  If some remote working becomes enforced, rather than chosen by employees, it is likely that the many positive benefits available to employers from offering flexible working will not materialise.”

“It is important to see this time as a transitional time for organisations.  While many employees are expressing preferences about how they work in the future, their real-life experiences of these new working arrangements may change in the future.

“Employers should recognise that different employees will have different preferences and that the past year of working from home has worked better for some than others. Some people are desperate to get back to an office environment because of personal circumstances or they do not have a suitable space or set-up to work from home comfortably.

“Many employees now have experience of working 100% from home and some have experience of working some of the time at home, however fewer have experience of this new context of where many staff are on a hybrid arrangement – new advantages and disadvantages may arise which may shape their views over time. For example, you can see a real danger, where a two-tier workforce could emerge between those in the office and those at home.

“To make a form of hybrid working work effectively, there is a need for careful thought about what people’s work involves and how it is best organised.  In particular, it is important that line managers are given support to help them in setting up new working arrangements with their teams and that they think carefully about how communication and co-ordination in the team will work when some people are in the workplace whilst others are working remotely.”

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