A quarter of employees said that they would leave their job if their boss scraps flexible working schemes once the pandemic is over.

That’s according to a new study by HR software company, Personio, who found a return to the traditional 9 to 5 working week could result in a mass walkout.

Over half of workers have said that their working hours have been altered as a result of changes made to adapt to the ‘new normal’ during the height of COVID-19, with 37% saying they were working fewer hours.

So, how can you ensure you keep your best workers happy after we’ve seen the back of the need for social distancing?

Things have changed in the last year…

Monday morning; *plonk* as you sit down at your desk. Fire up the PC and get ready for a productive week of work. Friday afternoon; *tick tock, tick tock*. You watch the clock, counting down the seconds until freedom.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that we had to change the way we did things, practically overnight. Almost everything went online; socialising, shopping, and the world of work was no different.

The office went remote, with employees working from home nationwide to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The message from the Government, reflected by employers, was stay home to save lives.

The introduction of blended working has revolutionised the workplace. Once something seen as a nice perk to only very few jobs, it became something entirely necessary for almost every business in the UK.


The traditional model of the working week was often thought of as synonymous with long commutes, noisy typers and people eating their smelly lunch on the desk next to you. And while some of us are missing the workplace romances, catch ups by the photocopier, and pub drinkies when the clock struck five, it seems others are so sold on the new work-from-home lifestyle that they’d rather never go back to how things used to be.

But now, with the government’s recent announcement of the ‘roadmap’ to waving goodbye to lockdown and ending measures such as social distancing towards the beginning of summer, are employers looking to return to the more rigid workplace schedules of the past?

According to the latest data, 41% of workers believe their employer is likely to stick with flexible working hours introduced last year permanently, while 37% believe their company will prefer the compulsory attendance structure of the past going forward.

With so many job roles moving with the times to adapt to home and flexible working for good, it seems those who prefer the ‘old’ way of working are unsurprisingly out of vogue.

But it’s not all bad news for employers, it might even spell a way to cut costs in the long run. Long have high shop frontage and office space rent prices dominated business expenses but could flexible working patterns change this too?

Headlines were made recently when Europe’s biggest banking giants HSBC said they would be going forward with plans to slash their use of office space by a massive 40% globally. For months now, many offices have had empty desks or have been sitting completely vacant, so perhaps it won’t be long until we’re seeing other businesses following in HSBC’s footsteps to a more homeworking-friendly model.

Prepare for a long-term digital shift

In a study by Harvey Nash Tech, over three quarters of people working In the tech sector wanted to continue working from home for the majority of the week and as many as 95% want to work from home for a least 2 days per week.

So how can businesses adapt to suit the needs of their employees? Well, Ross Seychell, Chief People Officer at Personio, says the changes to the working week introduced last year have become a requirement, rather than a perk for many working people in the UK.

“COVID-19 forced employers to introduce and trial new flexibilities to the daily work routine in an exceptionally short period of time,” he said.

“In most cases, it hasn’t had a negative impact on individual or company productivity. Employees across the world have now seen how flexible working could look in future, and quite rightly they will expect their company to have a plan for this.

“Now, businesses must work towards implementing the tooling and technology in the long-term to ensure they can continue to attract and retain the best talent in a hybrid world of work.” 




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