In the ever-evolving landscape of work, London professionals have embraced a more flexible approach, with over half of them opting for a hybrid work model, as revealed by a recent survey.
The study, conducted by recruitment agency Hays, found that a significant 56 percent of respondents expressed their unwillingness to consider job offers lacking this flexibility.
Interestingly, 18 percent of the professionals surveyed have fully embraced remote work, marking a significant shift in the post-pandemic lives of Londoners.
The traditional commute has transformed into virtual meetings and digital connections, offering newfound advantages to various individuals.
For Irene Poku, an executive coach, the pre-pandemic two-hour commutes to clients’ offices have been replaced by efficient online sessions. She describes this shift as “perfect,” enabling her to connect with more clients and balance family life.
Kundalini yoga teacher Kiranjot, who once travelled between studios to teach, now operates a subscription-based service, reaching a global audience. The scalability and accessibility of online classes have revolutionised her teaching approach, transcending geographical boundaries.
What role has the pandemic played?
Remote work initially gained momentum during the pandemic when the workforce was mandated to work from home. Subsequently, many employees are showing reluctance to revert to the conventional five-day office workweek.
Deirdre Mc Gettrick, the founder of a technology company, made the decision to relinquish her office space during the pandemic. She now operates her furniture search website, ufurnish, with a remote team of 15 employees who are permitted to work from abroad for up to a month each year.
Despite the advantages of flexible work arrangements in terms of talent acquisition, she acknowledges the trade-off of losing the in-person collaboration, energy, and motivation that office environments provide.
Weekly office patterns
An analysis by Freespace, a company focused on optimising office space and productivity, demonstrates that office occupancy levels in London experienced a significant drop on Mondays and Fridays, with Fridays seeing the most significant decline. The midweek office peak, however, is showing signs of a resurgence, with office attendance expected to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Some corporations in London now mandate employees’ return to the office, but resistance has arisen from individuals who have tailored their lives around a more flexible work style. Single parents, individuals with caring responsibilities, and those with mobility constraints find the hybrid approach to work empowering and more productive.
The Hays survey underlines that 69 percent of London employers currently offer hybrid work options, with 21 percent providing full flexibility for employees to choose their remote work days. However, approximately 28 percent of companies are indicating that they will require more in-office presence from their staff over the next year.
Women are particularly affected by the removal of flexible working policies
Recently, a group of MPs heard evidence suggesting that women have been particularly affected by the scaling back of flexible work policies. The think tank “The Other Half” reported that many women in the City have left high-performing roles due to changes in hybrid working arrangements.
The productivity of remote work remains a topic of debate, with varying perspectives from employers and employees. Research indicates that a blend of office and remote work, typically two to three days in the office, can be the most productive arrangement.
As London navigates the evolving work landscape, it remains crucial to strike the right balance between in-person and remote work to ensure both individual and organisational success. While hybrid work arrangements continue to gain ground, businesses must adapt to the changing preferences of their employees and earn their commitment to the office. One thing is clear: the demand for flexibility in the workplace is here to stay.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.