After almost eighteen months of working from home, it can be difficult to remember a time when most of us commuted to the office five days a week, and jobs that offered flexible or blended working patterns were few and far between.
Now though, it’s become the norm, as the coronavirus pandemic that hit last year changed the way the world turned almost overnight.
While the UK continues to recover from the COVID pandemic, and the country prepares to leave lockdown behind, hopefully for good, a blend of both home-working and office-working is expected to be popular among businesses and employees alike.
However, now, the Centre for Cities thinktank has said the five-day office week could become the norm again in as little as two years’ time, according to the BBC.
At the moment, those who can work from home are being encouraged to by the government as the vaccine continues to be offered out to those that want to get it.
But once all measures prohibiting certain forms of social contact are fully lifted, this is likely to change.
Once set for the 21st of June and now pushed back to the 19th July, what some media sources are calling ‘Freedom Day’ will bring with it an eagerness to return to pre-pandemic normality for most people across the UK, including in the world of work.
Although, representatives from the government have confirmed that a return to the office will not be made compulsory.
Policing minister, Kit Malthouse, said “I know there has been some media about this over the last two or three days, we don’t have any intention to make it compulsory to return to the office.
“Our manifesto at the last election did contain a pledge to consult on more flexible working to allow people to work from home should they wish to, and we will be doing that later on this year.”
“I expect we will see three or four days a week in the office as the UK recovers,” Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at Centre for Cities, told the BBC.
“Over the longer term, I’m quite hopeful that we will see people return five days a week.
“The reason for that is, one of the benefits of being in the office is having interactions with other people, coming up with new ideas and sharing information.”
He said people could not do this by scheduling a three o’clock meeting on a Tuesday – it had to happen randomly.
“If you’re in the office on a Monday but someone else is in the office on a Wednesday, then you’re starting to miss out. Or, if your colleague is in the office and having a meeting with your boss and you’re not there, all of a sudden that changes the dynamic again.”
The news comes along with new statistics which show an increase in the number of businesses seeking office space in big cities.
Since the uncertainty of the pandemic left many firms on the backfoot last year though, the demand for flexible and services office space on short leases has increased.
“We’ve had really strong take-up. People want flexible terms,” says Jessica Bowles, director of strategy at commercial property developer Bruntwood.
“What’s interesting is that it’s corporates wanting to do that as well as small businesses and SMEs.”
“Most businesses that have got space with us now want to maintain having an office, and they don’t see that they could give up the office for a certain number of days a week – they just want to use the space differently.
“That means more collaborative space, fewer banks of desks, places where people can come together and create and innovate.”
SOURCE: BBC News