Despite the recent lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, new data suggests that workers are refusing to take heed of the Chancellor’s calls to return back to offices. 

New data released by Remit Consulting shows only a marginal amount of workers have chosen to listen to the Chancellor’s wishes of staff returning to the office in light of lockdown restrictions being lifted.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has championed the view that staff should return to their workplaces.

Most recently, Mr. Sunak expressed the benefits of young people specifically working in offices, citing his own experience when first beginning his career.

Prior to this, the Chancellor also shared his opinion that enforcing a full-time remote working policy could lead to many employees quitting.

However, new data suggests that employees may not have been as eager to go back to the workplace.

Before the lockdown restrictions were lifted, around 11.1 per cent of employees were in offices.

Since the guidelines changed on the 19th July, this has only risen marginally to 11.7 per cent, suggesting that employees may not be willing to return to pre-pandemic ways of working.

Lorna Landells, an analyst at Remit Consulting, expressed that the holiday season could be impacting figures. She stated:

It is difficult to see a marked increase in these figures until the holiday season comes to an end. The question for September will be whether ‘back to school’ will also mean ‘back to the office’?

Helen Jamieson, Founder and Managing Director of Jaluch HR, urged employers to take a tougher stance when it comes to flexible working:

The reality is that employers need to get a little tougher. With a significant interest in more flexible working patterns, many employees have somehow created their own ideal working conditions, maybe forgetting that they have a contract of employment and that there are formal procedures to request flexible working.

It is time to regain control of what flexible working is in your business, how it can be requested and agreed and in what circumstances employees can claim flexible working. This is really a question of who is managing whom? Do your managers feel in control of flexible working, or do they feel controlled by employees who assert what works for them, not the business?

However, Sridhar Iyengar, MD, Zoho Europe, suggested that businesses should adopt a hybrid approach:

Businesses should look for the best of both worlds with the alternative – hybrid working, which will see employees return to the office on a part-time basis, from as little as just a few times a month, to multiple times a week, with the rest of work conducted remotely.

This will have the unique benefit of supporting workers, particularly young people, who crave a return to in-person social interactivity, whilst maintaining the flexible remote working arrangement that businesses have grown used to.

Businesses should remain open and flexible to individual worker needs in order to maintain a motivated and productive workforce, rather than apply a one-size-fits-all approach to working hours and environment.