Only a quarter of firms say that staff will need to work full time from an office in future

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New research by the British Chambers of Commerce Insights Unit and technology firm Cisco, shows less than 30 percent of firms expect their workforce to be fully in person over the next five years. The survey of over 1,000 businesses, of which 96 percent were SMEs, found just 27 percent of respondents predict their staff will be fully in-person over the next five years. 47 percent anticipate their staff to be mostly in-person, 16 percent expect mostly remote and 8 percent fully remote.

The research found a clear divide between different sectors, with business-to-business services firms (such as the finance and legal sectors) more likely to expect remote working. Only 17 percent of B2B services organisations expect fully in person working, while the figure for manufacturers is 38 percent, and B2C services 37 percent.

Companies were also asked about the connectivity tools they use such as video calling and cloud security. A quarter of firms (25 percent) say they are not confident they have the knowledge to make the right purchasing decisions, while three quarters (75 percent) are confident. Over half (55 percent) are relying on external experts when making decisions about adopting technology. 65 percent of firms say connectivity tools are value for money.

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said: “Our data shows that hybrid working is now part of the fabric of the modern workplace. For millions of people, logging in remotely for at least part of the working week is now routine. This flexibility is valued by employers and their teams. Less than 30 percent of firms expect staff to be working fully in person over the next five years.

“Flexible working makes good business sense.  In a tight labour market, where employers are competing for skilled workers, hybrid working, and flexible working more generally, has become an important part of staff benefit packages.  As well as boosting recruitment and retention, it can help employers unlock new and diverse talent pools. Employers still value regular face to face contact with staff, however, and our findings show only 8 percent of businesses expect staff to be completely remote. “