A quarter of UK businesses are planning to close, downsize or consolidate their offices in the coming months as they plan for a hybrid working future.
This was the finding of YouGov research carried out for Applaud last month, with researchers surveying more than 500 HR decision makers at 500 small, medium and large organisations across the UK.
More than half (53%) the respondents said their company plans to offer more flexible or remote working policies going forward.
Some 30% are expecting employees to return to working in the office between one and three days per week, while one in seven (14%) are not expecting employees to return to the office at all.
Duncan Casemore, Co-founder and CTO at Applaud, said: “When it comes to the way we work, organisations are embarking on an era of unprecedented change. Driven by employee experience, business leaders are turning away from the traditional five days in the office format, instead moving to provide more productive flexible and remote working scenarios.
“While there has been great clamour from the workforce to implement more flexibility in the way we work, the Covid-19 pandemic has provided the catalyst to initiate these changes.”
However, 44% of respondents admitted that their HR department had not been equipped to deal with remote working during the early stages of the pandemic, though 43% had invested in this area over the past few months to improve the situation.
Indeed, with the savings made on office space, employers are increasingly putting more financial resources into their HR teams, with Nottingham-headquartered software firm ENSEK one such example.
“We’ve invested heavily in our people team, and have doubled the function in the past two months alone as we tackle this head on. We’ve instated ‘Culture Champions’ across the company, who act as a living example of our values, and will be pivotal in driving the company forwards with its core ethos and purpose,” said Mel Joy, Chief People Officer at ENSEK.
Companies are also investing heavily in technology that enables remote working – 46% said they were planning to implement better remote working tools in future.
Employees are also set to benefit from the savings their employers are making on office space, with 18% of respondents looking at handing out pay rises and promotions in the coming months.
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