Surveys Point To Office Workplace Flux

21 Sep 2021 | 11.32 am

Surveys Point To Office Workplace Flux

Taxback.com, Auxilion and HR Locker take the temperature

21 Sep 2021 | 11.32 am

A new survey has revealed that six in ten office workers are still uncertain as to whether office or remote working is likely to make up most of their working week going forward.

According to Taxback.com, of the 1,500 employee surveyed 38% have already returned to the office, 36% have not yet been told when they should expect to return, and the remaining 26% are due to go back within the next six months.

Of those employees who have been told by their employer, there was a near even split between those who will be primarily co-locating between the office and home (35%); those who will be office-based (35%); and those fully remote working (30%).

Marian Ryan, consumer tax manager with Taxback.com, commented: “From the survey it’s clear that the landscape for office workers is still very much in flux, with a large percentage of employers (63%) having yet to tell staff whether or not they will be mostly based at home or the office going forward.”

One in five workers plan to ask their employer to work from home on a permanent basis, the Taxback survey finds.

Another survey by Auxilion has reported that four out of five employees want their employer to facilitate hybrid working. A large majority (89%) believe they are as productive working from home as in office.

The Auxilion survey of over 500 people conducted by Censuswide says the key upside of remote working has been not having to commute.

The workers saving the most commute time are from Cavan (121 minutes), Westmeath (77 minutes), Kildare (71 minutes), Kilkenny (68 minutes) and Wexford (65 minutes).

While over a fifth (22%) want an even split between working from home and at the office, the same number want to be mostly working from home. This option was found to be more popular among females than males – 26% compared to 17%.

Auxilion’s Eleanor Dempsey (pictured) commented: “Companies need to appreciate that the role and priority of work in their employees′ lives has changed. They also need to realise that employees can still be effective and impactful, while taking more time for themselves.

“The hybrid conversation is no longer about getting people connected during a crisis, but embracing it as the new normal and, perhaps more crucially, deploying it as a means of talent acquisition and retention.”

Another survey of 600 executives by HR Locker has found that six in ten employers are planning to offer a range of incentives to promote vaccination and coax employees back to the office. The most popular initiatives include:
• Free meals – 42%
• Organising mobile vaccination clinics – 33%
• Additional time-off for vaccinated staff – 27%
• Complimentary in-office therapies (e.g. meditation, massages) – 16%
• Subsidised taxis – 7%.

Separate recent HR Locker research revealed that half of employers surveyed are worried that they could be subject to legal claims from employees due directly to Covid-19 or indirectly as a result of stress relating to their wellbeing.

While the majority of businesses are opting for rewards-based approaches, one in five  survey respondents expressed they were considering a firmer approach, centred around penalties for those who refused to get vaccinated or return to the office without a valid excuse. Such actions include:
• Exclusion from company events – 19%
• Dismissal – 15%
• Pay reductions – 10%
• Reduced bonuses – 3%.

Meanwhile, the National Recruitment Federation says that flexible working has surpassed bonus payouts as the bigger draw for job candidates.

“Employers around the country are gearing up to manage the return of their employees to on-site working, and while health and safety has to be their top priority right now, how they respond to employees’ flexible working preferences needs to be high on their agenda,” Donal O’Donoghue, NRF president.

Among the 114 recruiters surveyed this month by the Federation, half said candidates now view flexible working as being “more important” than bonuses when considering new roles. Forty-one per cent see it as less important, while the remaining nine per cent place equal importance on both.

Sixty-five per cent of the recruiters surveyed said job candidates now regard flexible working as a “necessity” when applying for new roles, compared to 35% who see it as a perk.  Two-thirds of the recruiters surveyed said candidates place “similar importance” on both salary and flexible working when considering new roles.

When asked about candidates’ preferred flexible working options, 57% of the recruiters said candidates want to work from home for three days per week, compared to two days for 39% one day a week for 4%.

By contrast, the favoured flexible working option among employers currently is two days per week working from home (53%), followed by three days per week (29%) and one day per week at 18%.

Resistance of a return to the pre-Covid office working normal was also detected in research of c.1,000 people by IWG, which operates Regus and Spaces flexible work and office space.

This UK and Ireland survey found that three in four office workers would prefer a hybrid model over going back to the office full-time, even with the lure of a 10% pay rise. Two-thirds of those aged 25-34 would not consider applying for a job if it did not offer hybrid working.

IWG says 84% of 18 to 24-year-olds want flexible working practises over more money. However, the majority of this cohort (90%) also believe working from an office provides them with better work-life boundaries, with 82% stating that their career prospects may be harmed if they are not able to go into the office.

The need for flexibility during the working week combined with the benefits of office access demonstrate the importance of businesses providing their employees with a hybrid work model to ensure freedom of choice to suit a variety of lifestyles.

Mark Dixon, founder and CEO of IWG, commented: “The hybrid model allows employees to achieve a better work/life balance while retaining the collaborative and social benefits of an office environment. The fact many are more concerned about a flexible work policy over a pay-rise speaks volumes as to the permanent behaviour and mindset shift caused by the pandemic.”

 

 

 

 

 

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