Where do UK workers see the future of the workplace?

As the UK prepares to slowly lift lockdown to varying degrees across the home nations, the burning question from workers remains: ‘what is the future of my workplace?’ Remote working was not new to many senior managers in some traditional office roles, our data recorded pre-pandemic found that in the UK only 6% of the workforce still worked a 9-5 working day. However, in the last year the switch to working from home has undoubtedly won its fair share of plaudits from those who would traditionally have been expected to be in the office nine to five, five days a week.

Many have lauded the opportunity to reclaim the time usually spent commuting to the office, freeing up time to tackle other tasks, learn a new skill or stretch themselves at work or in other arenas. Unfortunately, with lockdown also came a shift in childcare patterns which has led to a greater burden for many working parents to master ‘The Great Juggle’. While remote working sceptics do remain – many of whom criticise the increased blurring of personal and professional lives – it still looks as if more remote working is here to stay.

The Q2 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey found that over two-thirds UK employers plan to return to the office for most of the time in the next 6-12 months. But where do workers see the future of the workplace? In a recent webinar outlining the main findings of the survey, and the question was asked to our audience a broad mix of business and HR leaders from different sized organisations across the UK – how many days do you expect to be in the office when restrictions are lifted? Here’s what we found:

Half of workers envisage three days a week in the office

In total, 50% of webinar attendees anticipate that, once restrictions are lifted, they will spend an average of three days a week in the office. To many this ‘hybrid’ approach can offer the best of both worlds: the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and collaborate in-person, while also enjoying the flexibility of remote working when they need it most. This blended option – the mixing of office and remote work – is anticipated by most workers in fact. Two days a week in the office is expected by 23% whilst 18% predict they will only spend one day in the office, meaning a total of 91% expect between 1-3 days in the office when it is possible to do so.

Very few predict one option or the other

What’s clear from the findings is that very few expect the binary choice of either fully-office or fully-remote. In fact, nobody who participated in the poll can imagine a return to the office five days of the week. The pandemic has shown, in sectors where it is not critical to be on-site, that remote work can be a success, and productivity has not dwindled. Elsewhere, just 4.5% indicated they expect to be working remote all of the time, highlighting there is still a place for the office for workers post-pandemic.

Workers expect to welcome new colleagues

As part of the session, we also asked participants how they anticipate total employment changing over the next three months. The findings were largely encouraging, with the highest proportion (46%) indicating they expect to welcome new staff into their organisations over the course of Q2. In comparison, just 8% expect their organisations to trim payrolls in the next three months, whereas roughly 23% of viewers anticipate that their current headcounts will remain the same.

Keen to find out more labour market insights for the second quarter of 2021? Watch our UK Jobs Outlook webinar on-demand now.