UK Staff Resisting ‘Big Return’ To The Office, Says infinitSpace

The management struggle to get staff back into the office, after a couple of years of remote working has been revealed by infinitSpace.

The Netherlands-based workspace management specialist gathered feedback from 945 UK businesses, namely 587 staff and 358 managers.

And it seems that all is not going smoothly for senior management, as businesses plot the “big return” to the corporate workplace or office.

Big return

Indeed, many big name tech firms including Apple, Google and others, have faced significant pushback from their workforce as they sought to bring staff back into the office.

Indeed, one Apple executive publicly resigned over the firm’s order to return to the office earlier this year.

Many firms meanwhile are adopting hybrid working practices, with staff working two or three days in the office, and other days remotely (often at home).

Into this slots the infinitSpace research, which found on the one hand, that three in five UK business leaders (or 61 percent of business leaders) said they are struggling to get staff back into the office as often as they would like.

But on the flipside, one third (36 percent) of full-time staff said they are considering moving to an employer that offers more flexibility, and 31percent are looking for a more engaging workspace. That figures rises to 53 percent among those aged 18-34.

Meanwhile, 31 percent of staff say they want to work for an employer with a better workspace – and again, it rises to 48 percent of those aged 18-34.

Workspace change

The infinitSpace research also found that two-fifths (39 percent) are seeking a new workspace to reflect their changing office needs, but potentially signals a difficult period for commercial office space landlords.

Of those actively looking, 56 percent are seeking a flexible workspace and 44 percent are downsizing, with 45 percent saying it is difficult to find a space that meets their needs.

“The pandemic has fundamentally reset what people want and need from a workspace and, as the research clearly showed, it has also emboldened employees to seek greater flexibility,” noted Wybo Wijnbergen, CEO of infinitSpace. “More than ever, employees have the power to shape their working week around the realities of everyday life.”

infinitSpace CEO Wybo Wijnbergen

“The importance of this is reflected by the staggering number of employees considering moving jobs for a working policy or workspace that better suits them,” said Wijnbergen. “Positively, business leaders are showing an astute awareness of this, with decision-makers recognising that both flexible workspace and hybrid working policies are essential to retaining and attracting staff.

“The evolution of work is largely being set by employees and employers in tandem,” added Wijnbergen. “Those who fail to meet the flexible and dynamic demands of today are going to find it very difficult to attract and retain the best talent. Evidently, though, the office landscape also needs to evolve, and fast, with demand for flexible workspace outstripping demand in many places.”

San Francisco example

The significance of the remote working shift was evidenced last month, when the mayor of San Francisco denied there had been an ‘exodus’ from her city, but admitted a large change was impacting local businesses.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said last month her city would have to adjust to the new reality that many workers were not coming back to the office.

Remote and home working became the norm for millions of workers around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And many workers are opting not to return to the office, but instead continue working from home, or adopt a hybrid working pattern.

The San Francisco Bay area is home to many big name tech firms, and the city itself took a $400 million hit to its tax revenues in 2021, as businesses moved to other cities and shifted to remote working.

Mayor London Breed acknowledged that tech workers have been slower to return to physical spaces in San Francisco than in other major cities.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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