Why 'blended' working will become the future for millions of employees

The pre-pandemic 9-5 way of working is “a thing of the past” but the office is not dead, a major study suggests.

The research found that while remote working is here to stay for millions of us, as a result of the pandemic, the office is not entirely dead.

The seismic shift in working arrangements that has taken place since March will continue and there will not be a universal return to the office for millions of workers, according to the research, which was undertaken by independent consultants for the British Contract Furnishing Association (BCFA).

Researchers interviewed key figures in the office sector and analysed results from multiple studies.

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They found that while remote working is here to stay for millions of us, speculation that the office is dead with businesses moving to full-time remote arrangements may be misplaced.

Instead, a blended working approach mixing the office with remote working looks set to be the future for the majority.

However, staff working from home reported higher levels of stress, citing loneliness and technology problems as key issues.

Nearly half of working-from-home employees feel under pressure to show how hard they are working and are also working longer hours, the research discovered.

Jeremy Stein, managing director of the BCFA, whose 250-plus members support more than 17,000 jobs in the UK, said: “The voice of officer workers and their employers has now been heard loud and clear – this report puts beyond doubt that the way people work is going to change.

“Home and remote working has lost its often negative reputation, however it is also clear that teams need space to grow, flourish and collaborate together, and the office of the future will need to support this if organisations are to be successful.

“The seismic change that has happened over the last several months is here to stay – the future will be a mix of people working from home and working and collaborating at the office.

“This will have major implications across the country and we are urging government at all levels to take this into account as they make policy decisions for the future.”

Craig Knight, a psychologist who has advised companies on creating work spaces, said: “There are obvious pros and cons for both employees and their bosses.

“While people have adjusted to working from home well, significant numbers report struggling with loneliness and feeling under pressure to show constantly they really are working.

“Space plays a key role in productivity, creativity, health and wellbeing which can quickly be forgotten. Not everyone has the space or environment to work from home, nor does everyone wish to work alone.

“Engaged employees are generally those that have choice and control over when and how they work. The office is, and will remain, one of the key spaces for work.”

Mark Spragg, managing director of Where Now Consulting, added: “We are now starting to see decisions being made that will have long term impact on the companies that take the decisions and wider society. There is no “one size fits all” and leaders will need to really think through the role the office of the future will have in the success of their organisation and the balance with home and remote working.”

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