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Yorkshire Times
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3:09 PM 7th April 2021
business

Back To The Watercooler

Millions of workers are looking forward to going back into the office in June but mainly because they have missed all the gossip (70%), a study shows.

Almost two thirds expect to be back before July, with 65% of the UK workforce planning their return to the office for June.

Additionally to this, an overwhelming majority want the traditional 9 to 5 to be replaced with flexible hours and home working for part of the week.

Flexible Working Should Be The New Norm

The 9 to 5 is no longer a way to make a living as more employees want flexible working.

The new insight shows over a third of employers and employees agree working 2 or 3 days a week in the office will be the new norm. A third would prefer 4 days in the office.

Employees also want more flexibility with the start of the working day, with only 25% of men wanting to stick to the ‘traditional working hours, and with females keen to work later to balance their personal life throughout the day.

The survey undertaken by MEAVO, makers of office meetings and phone pods, in collaboration with Atomik Research, has revealed what office workers and business owners really think about returning to regular office work, and also what the post-Covid office will look like.

The key areas the survey looked at include the environments and schedules that people feel they are operating most productively in, as well as how they are feeling about returning to office work in the wake of the pandemic.

Getting Ready To Return To The Office

It seems that while working from home has become the norm for now, the majority of people (65%) stated that they are looking forward to a return to normality and being in the office. And the reasons why?

74% miss general human interaction

61% miss being face-to-face with colleagues and state it’s easier to work collaboratively with others in an office environment

Another popular reason to return amongst the male employees was the commute into the office whilst over 16% of female employees stated this as a dread of returning

“Over the past year, the UK have had to adapt to a new way of balancing work and personal life. Working from home, collaborating with colleagues remotely while taking care of children and not being able to see family and friends has impacted our mental health.

The pre-Covid office layout of cramming employees into large open-plan rooms wasn’t productive to begin with. Going forward, it will be even more vital for employees to have a place to retreat and escape their noisy surroundings, so they can focus, speak in privacy and feel less stressed.

Moreover, as many colleagues will continue to work from home for some days of the week, there will be an increased demand for quiet places in offices so employees can communicate in privacy with colleagues who are now working remotely,” explained Todor Madzharov founder of MEAVO, makers of sound proof booths for more productive working

Ready To Return To The Office But Concerns Over Confidence

One of the biggest changes employees want to the office is having more space for privacy. Spending time at home being in their own environment has given employees more confidence and there is a fear of insecurity along with productivity in returning to a busy office with colleagues listening into conversations.

Having personal space and privacy has also been highlighted as a key element for productivity and thus work satisfaction. Both men and female employees felt working at home impacted their work with men feeling they found it hard to concentrate and females noting their productivity being higher when at the office.

The insight showed men were more impacted by the need for wanting more privacy in the work space.

Moving On Up, Moving On Out

While it’s most probable that people will return to office work with a more flexible approach to scheduling, another key difference post-pandemic will be returning to an office that’s safe and hygienic for employees.

The research revealed that business owners are taking serious precautions to ensure their staff are protected, putting their wellbeing as a top priority. When business owners ranked what is most important to them in a post-COVID office space, increased focus on employee health came out on top, followed by sustainability and an increase in workplace collaboration.

Joe Fitzsimons, Workplace Lead & Senior Policy Advisor, Institute of Directors. said:“Business leaders will be looking forward to the reopening of the economy, after a testing year. Following the roadmap, it's essential that the government works closely with businesses to provide guidance on how organisations can reopen safely, to ensure the safety of their workers. Almost three quarters of our members said they would be keeping some form of home-working in place after coronavirus, which may indicate a desire for a hybrid approach as the economy reopens.”