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The rise of the hybrid worker

Hybrid workers to split the working week between home and office, new survey shows

The long-term effects of COVID-19 on corporate working patterns are laid bare in a new survey of 2,500 office workers by IT managed service provider Atlas Cloud that highlights both the benefits of the current home-working experiment and the value of the office as a social hub.

With workers drawn to both environments, Atlas Cloud predicts a future dominated by hybrid working, where knowledge workers split their working week between time in the office and time working at home.

This is already how many senior executives work, but it has been democratised by Covid and in the future will be an option for people at all levels of an organisation.

Benefits of home working
Concerns about the distractions of home life have long been a reason to keep employees in the office. However, attitudes are changing and there is growing acceptance that home workers can be just as productive as office-based colleagues.

Almost nine in ten office workers (88%) say that the coronavirus crisis has shown they can work effectively from home.

Atlas Cloud’s survey certainly suggests that home workers put in more hours. This largely comes from time saved by not commuting, with workers splitting the average saving of 84 minutes per day between work (38 minutes) and leisure (46 minutes).

This represents a win-win for employers and employees. Businesses gain the equivalent of an extra 21 working days every year, while employees recoup the equivalent of 25.7 days of leisure time to spend on sleep (49%), time with the family (46%) or exercise (43%).

Not surprisingly, 87% of workers say they want to be allowed to work at least one day a week from home.

The benefits of office life
It is equally clear that workers still value office life. While just 5% would like to spend the whole week in the office, only a minority (26%) would like to spend every working hour at home. Three quarters (74%) would like to divide their working time between home and office.

If nothing else, lockdown has highlighted offices’ vital social function. Four months after the start of Britain’s lockdown, more than one in five people surveyed by Atlas Cloud (22%) said the lack of social interaction they experienced while working from home had affected their mental health.

Uncertain future
While hybrid working (a mixture of office-based and remote working) appears to benefit everyone, many businesses remain reluctant to commit to this new way of working.

Of those who didn’t work from home prior to lockdown, 58% said this was due to restrictive company policies. Even after lockdown, only 23% of workers have been given permission to work from their preferred location.

Flexibility is the future
Ignoring the wishes of existing employees is one thing, but there is also evidence that remote working can help businesses attract top talent – and from a wider area.

The ability to work remotely is now desired by almost half (49%) of jobseekers, a rise of almost 50 percentage points from before the lockdown, when it was judged to be important by 32% of workers.

Pete Watson, CEO of Atlas Cloud, said: “This research clearly demonstrates that the vast majority of people want to return to the office in some capacity, but more often than not this is to pursue a hybrid working model where they can work more flexibly. Instead of enforcing strict policies to work from home or from the office, employers need to build agility and flexibility into their policies, enabling hybrid-working in order to boost efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction, as well as attracting and retaining the best talent.” URLs and emails.

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