Most Britons favour keeping hybrid working

The vast majority of Britons do not believe working full-time from offices will ever again become the norm in the wake of the introduction of home and hybrid working during pandemic lockdowns, according to a new poll.

Woman working from home at her desk
Some 70% of 1,684 working adults surveyed by YouGov for the BBC felt that staff would would "never return to offices at the same rate" because of coronavirus-induced changes.

Could working from home could hamper career progress of young workers?

But while a majority of workers said they would prefer to remain working from home on a full- or part-time basis, 62% also felt such a system would hamper the careers progress of young workers.Such a view was shared by 69% of 530 business leaders also surveyed, with half of them saying a continuation of home working would also adversely affect creativity and collaboration - a view shared by only 38% of employees.

UK government could ask people return to working from home in case of a Covid surge

The subject has gained importance over the past week because, although the government's current advice is that people should return to their workplaces, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs on Tuesday that asking people to work from home again was near the top of the government’s contingency plan should there be  “unsustainable pressure on the NHS” because of a surge in Covid-19 cases this autumn and winter.Prof Andrew Hayward, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said that a general return to home working could make "a significant difference to transmission if we get into trouble".He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday, "The most important and effective way of reducing spread of the virus is not to be in contact with other people."
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Some highlight the negative mental health effects of too much home working

However, Prof Abigail Marks, a professor in the future of work at Newcastle University Business School, highlighted the extensive investment in making businesses coronavirus secure and the cost of reverting to home working, particularly for short periods.Prof Marks told iNews that her own research had found that “homeworking and lockdown were pretty catastrophic for workers’ mental health” over last winter.She added, “As I am sure the Chancellor is aware, the risk of extended restrictions will almost definitely move us towards a recession.“I think the government should have been more realistic at least three or four months ago when it was quite clear Covid case numbers were not going to be zero, that the pandemic was not going to be going away.“We know that this winter is going to be a significant challenge. To think that having everybody immediately back in the office and everything was going to be fine was, I think, really short sighted.”

US & Microsoft - pros and cons of home working

Research published last week showed that more than 61,000 Microsoft workers in the US found that working from home had reduced creativity, communication and teamwork.The research found working from home resulted in staff becoming "more siloed in how they communicate"; made it difficult for departments to share new information; and forced workers to engage in fewer real-time conversations.On the plus side, home working had resulted in employees spending fewer hours in meetings, which many felt were previously over-long and a waste of time. And staff at home also reported working longer hours.After consulting staff at its headquarters in Washington state in the spring, Microsoft found that 73% favoured retaining some form of hybrid working.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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