More than a third (41%) of employers in Northern Ireland expect staff to transition to a new era of part-remote and part-office working in the next six months, new research from recruiting experts Hays reveals
In a survey of over 13,500 professionals and employers, with over 500 responses from those working in Northern Ireland, the overall number of employers across the UK who expect a new hybrid model to come into play was even higher, at 55%.
Over half (60%) of organisations in Northern Ireland said staff are already returning to work in the office, while in England more employers in the North East (72%) and the North West (68%) said staff are returning compared to just 44% in Greater London.
Many organisations in NI (42%) have returned to the office using split shifts, whereby teams alternate the days they work in the office and at home or work one week at home and one in the workplace. Other measures taken by organisations are a voluntary return (26%) and staggered hours, where team members start and finish at different hours to avoid peak travel times (40%).
Hybrid working favoured over being fully remote
Despite a number of organisations announcing staff can work remotely for the foreseeable future, only 2% of employers in NI expect their workforce to be fully remote in six months’ time and only 8% of employees would like to still be working remotely at that time.
A hybrid model of remote and office-based work is likely to be the future way of working. Alongside employers, 48% of staff in NI would like to be working in a hybrid model in six months’ time. Less than a third (31%) said they want to be based fully in the workplace.
Differences also occur across regions with those working in London indicating they haven’t missed their commute, with only 16% wanting to be based in the office full time in six months and the majority (58%) stating they would prefer to do part-remote and part-office working.
Just over half (51%) of the NI based employers surveyed are planning to change their flexible working policies to accommodate this shift, over a third (35%) are retaining communication and collaboration tools installed during lockdown, and 24% plan to reduce their office space.
John Moore, Managing Director of Hays in NI, said: “The health and safety of staff needs to remain the top priority when reopening offices and initially this ought to happen on a voluntary basis to take into account those who are unable to return for their own personal reasons. However, companies need to look to the future now too. There’s been a seismic shift with demands for sustained flexible working and this looks set to continue on a scale never seen before.
“Yet the responses indicate that many people have had enough of working solely at home. The greatest demand is for a new hybrid way of working – staff want a balance between office life and working remotely, which is now far closer in their sights than ever before. As more organisations start to work in a hybrid working arrangement, maintaining the company culture and ensuring communication is transparent needs to be a key consideration for employers. Remind your team that every employee – whether they are in the office or at home – has a role to play in sustaining the company’s culture for the next era of work.”
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