Recent research has brought to light a divided sentiment within the UK regarding employers’ rights to enforce a return to full-time office work, a significant shift occurring three years after the pandemic reshaped the work landscape.

In a comprehensive survey involving 2,000 UK adults, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of flexible office specialists Space32, slightly over half of the British populace (53%) expressed agreement with employers’ prerogative to require their staff to be physically present in the office for five days a week.

Conversely, a mere 11 percent of respondents opposed this notion, while an additional 36 percent remained undecided on whether employers should be allowed to mandate daily office attendance.

These findings coincide with actions taken by prominent companies such as Goldman Sachs, Google, Meta, Disney, and Twitter, which are scaling back flexible work arrangements in a bid to enhance organisational culture and productivity.

Full-time office work

Interestingly, the survey disclosed that the generation known as Gen X holds the strongest belief in an employer’s right to impose full-time office work. Specifically, 61 percent of those aged 35 to 44 endorsed this stance. However, this perspective wasn’t uniformly shared across generations. Respondents aged 18 to 24, who have primarily experienced hybrid and remote work, exhibited the least enthusiasm, with only 50 percent endorsing employers’ authority to mandate traditional office attendance.

A similar sentiment was observed among Baby Boomers, where 50 percent of respondents aged 55 and above considered it reasonable for employers to enforce full-time office hours, aligning with a broader trend of older workers choosing to work primarily from home.

Working from home is a prized perk

Despite the prevailing belief that employers possess the right to demand full-time office attendance, the survey findings indicate that the prospect of returning to the office every weekday is not warmly embraced by the majority of Brits. Remarkably, ‘working from home’ emerged as the most prized job perk among office workers, with 51 percent of respondents indicating they would be willing to forgo other benefits to retain this flexibility. When delving deeper into the data, it becomes apparent that Gen Z places the highest value on remote work, with an impressive three-quarters of respondents aged 18 to 24 expressing a preference for remote work over other perks.

Jon Dweck, CEO and co-founder of Space32, commented on these developments, noting the remarkable shift in attitudes towards work. He emphasised that even though employers may have the legal right to enforce full-time office work, such mandates are unlikely to be well-received by employees. Dweck underscored the necessity of tailoring workplace arrangements to individual preferences, highlighting that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to hybrid work environments.

In terms of finding a balanced approach between office and remote work, Dweck offered the following advice:

  1. Reevaluate Flexible Work Policies: Take the time to reassess current working models, considering employee feedback and preferences. Regular check-ins and adjustments are crucial for maintaining a productive and satisfied workforce.
  2. Determine the Right Mix: When adopting a hybrid model, carefully consider how workdays are divided between the office and remote locations. Tailor these arrangements based on the nature of tasks and departmental needs.
  3. Optimise Weekly Workflow: Streamline the weekly schedule to maximise productivity. Schedule collaborative activities for office days and prioritise deep-focus tasks for remote workdays.
  4. Enhance the Office Environment: Invest in creating an appealing office space that offers comfort and convenience. Include meeting rooms, breakout areas, and outdoor spaces to foster a conducive work environment.
  5. Balance Perks and Flexibility: Acknowledge the significance of remote work to employees by offering it as a valued perk. Consider incorporating home comforts and opportunities for team bonding, even in remote setups.





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 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.