November 10, 2020
Workers lukewarm on both permanent remote work and the 9 to 5
The vast majority of UK office workers neither want to continue working remotely after Covid-19 restrictions lift nor make a full return to the 9 to 5. This is despite the fact that many admit that remote work has reduced their productivity. Those are the main claims of new research released by Locatee. Carried out by YouGov, the research claims to provide insight into UK office workers’ attitudes towards productivity, job security, and the prospect of further Covid-19 restrictions.
According to Locatee’s research, if given the choice, just 7 percent of respondents would opt to return to the office full time. Almost one in five (18 percent) would choose to work from home every day, whilst a third (32 percent) would opt to work from home most days. Those with three or more children are the most likely to want to return to the office permanently (11 percent), whilst men are more keen than women to return (49 percent vs 44 percent).
Asked to identify the key reasons for working from home, 72 percent of respondents flagged ‘comfort’, whilst 50 percent stated they feel more productive. For a third (32 percent), fear of contracting Coronavirus in the office is still a significant concern. Half (50 percent) feel the time spent commuting is too high, while a quarter (25 percent) enjoy time away from colleagues.
Despite remote working proving popular, there is a negative impact on productivity. Only 57 percent feel the standard of their work is equal to or higher than it was when based in an office. Just 13 percent of respondents feel they manage or train teams as effectively when working remotely. Creativity and brainstorming are also hindered – only a quarter (26 percent) feel they can execute as effectively remotely.
Cash incentives are a key motivator in getting reluctant workers back into offices. Almost a third (31 percent) would be willing to accept an extra £10 or less per day to return (an additional £2,540 per annum per employee). A further 37 percent would accept between £20 and £30 additional pay per day (up to £7,620 per annum per employee). Increased holiday allowance is the second most popular motivator to return (38 percent), followed by more desk space (23 percent) and better technology such as laptops and mobiles (22 percent). A quarter (25 percent) of respondents state that no incentive would encourage them to work more frequently from the office.
“There’s a clear appetite for UK office workers to retain the option of remote working after restrictions lift.”
Job security over the next year is a concern for over a quarter of respondents (28 percent). Londoners are the most worried about holding onto their job (37 percent), followed by those in the Midlands (32 percent) and the East (26 percent). 73 percent of women feel secure in their jobs, compared to 70 percent of men. 45-54 year olds are the age group most concerned about losing their job (35 percent), compared to 23 percent of 25-34 year olds.
When asked to consider a scenario where the UK was still under the current lockdown measures in six months (April 2021), over a third (37 percent) would feel disappointed. (41 percent male vs 33 percent female). Regionally, those in London and Scotland would be most disappointed (42 percent), along with those with three or more children (46 percent). Over a quarter (26 percent) of those polled feel ‘neutral’ at the prospect, while 18 percent feel calm.
Weight gain during lockdown is an issue for more than half (53 percent) of respondents, with females more likely to feel they’ve put on weight than males (57 percent vs 50 percent). 60 percent of separated or divorced respondents feel they’ve gained weight, compared to 50 percent of those married.
Thomas Kessler – CEO and co-founder at Locatee – comments: “The research shows us there’s a clear appetite for UK office workers to retain the option of remote working after restrictions lift. However the issue of reduced productivity needs consideration: it’s worrying that only 13 percent of managers can effectively lead teams remotely.
Requirements for UK office space will undergo a significant shift over the next year, with fewer workers needing a full-time desk. This creates an opportunity for companies to take a data-driven approach to workspace planning, and create an optimal office environment which both serves employees’ needs, and saves on unnecessary real-estate costs. Companies which optimise their workplace early-on stand to save significant amounts, and effective planning should therefore be a key priority.”
Image by mohamed Hassan