Around four-fifths of business leaders have confessed that they do not believe employees will return to pre-pandemic ways of working, specifically working full-time in an office space.

People will never return to the offices at the same rate as before the pandemic, business leaders and employees alike reported in a survey carried out by the BBC.

Just under four-fifths of business leaders (79 per cent) and employees (70 per cent) felt this way, with the latter group stating they would prefer a hybrid way of working which encompasses being able to work at home and in the office.

However, senior business leaders were less sure about this move with half feeling that creativity and collaboration could be impacted with extended remote working.

Despite this, it is evident that the impact of the last year has been keenly recognised by both staff and employers who argued that remote working would not hinder productivity or the economy and its recovery.

These results come as the Government published its COVID-19 Autumn and Winter Plan which confirmed that working from home could be re-instated later this year if the NHS are overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), stated the policy could make “a significant difference to transmission if we get into trouble”.

However, a fact that was acknowledged by both employees and senior leaders was the detrimental impact working from home could have on younger employees.

Over two-thirds (69 per cent) of senior business leaders and three-fifths of the general public (62 per cent) felt that career progression could be hindered for young people working at home compared to those that go into the office.

This was echoed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak who argued young workers would benefit from working in-office due to the professional network that could be built and the opportunity to learn from others in their field.

Despite these findings suggesting a preference to work from home at least some of the time, it is unclear whether employers will act upon this. However, being unable to offer flexibility could pose problems in hiring candidates, recruiters state.

Kam Vara, a consultant at Katie Bard recruitment, stated:

It used to be that people would fit their lives around their work. Covid is teaching people that it doesn’t work that way any more.

People are turning down opportunities because they don’t offer remote working, and they would rather sit tight and wait for the right job to become available.


*The BBC commissioned polling organisation YouGov to survey 1,684 working adults and 530 senior leaders in business about their predictions and opinions on working from home.