After a year in lockdown, the Office for National Statistics has revealed data showing that productivity per worker during the pandemic has increased by 0.4%.
Businesses have adapted to digital and flexi-working and the benefits they entail have now solidified themselves in our working culture norms. Across the UK, the dialogue has been changed as employers from the Civil Service to PwC have announced official structures for flexible working in the long-term, cutting office space by around 40% to reflect this.
However, many businesses, including some giants such as Goldman Sachs, continue to denounce the idea of flexi-working in the long term, going against the grain of what employees are calling for. As restrictions are eased, employees are now being called back to the office, triggering calls for increased flexibility in order to maintain the increased flexibility they have seen during the pandemic.
This is supported by landmark research by Theta Global Advisors, showing that a lack of flexibility from businesses has resulted in negative impacts on productivity, mental health and working cultures. Workers want to choose how and where to work going forward in order to be more productive, safeguard their mental health, and achieve a better work/life balance.
According to the research, more than half of workers feel that the leaders and decision makers are “out of touch” and do not understand the processes required to ensure efficiency and productivity.
Working from home has also blurred boundaries between work and private life, with bosses messaging and emailing late in the evening and during out-of-hours, leading to employees feeling increasingly drained and unable to relax.
With a third of UK workers seeing their company’s headcounts decrease but workloads increase, a perfect storm is brewing.
Chris Biggs, Partner at consultancy and accounting Theta Global Advisors, says: “To ensure people are at their happiest and most productive, flexibility is needed in both where and when they work. Freedom from the office must also mean freedom to go to the office to account for different experiences, priorities, and conditions.
“With companies adopting new policies and substantial differentiation in the experience of working during COVID-19, it seems working environments will never return to what they were in 2019.”