The world of work post-Covid is a hot topic right now – it’s one reason we wrote the book! The selection of articles just cover the last month or so. We’ll keep this page up-to-date with the latest news and commentary on the future of work. Note, some of the articles we link to may only be accessible to subscribers.
Where working at home is driving up house prices June 21, The Telegraph
No longer tied to train lines and timetables, those working from home have upended the property market. Rural areas previously thought to be out of reach due to the grind of the daily commute have recorded soaring demand. Official data shows homeworkers are concentrated in pricey suburbs and second-home hotspots. Most people who are able to work remotely are employed in higher paid professional sectors, after all. And these homeworking hotspots have recorded some of the biggest surges in demand from pandemic relocators. Tunbridge Wells in Kent is Britain’s homeworking capital.
Covid: Should I be working from home or going back in the office June 19, BBC
Advice article setting out the rules in relation to work following the extension of Covid-19 restrictions until July 19th.
Get back to work: Furious bosses condemn Whitehall plans June 17, Daily Mail
Millions of office staff would be given a ‘default’ right to work from home under post-pandemic plans from ministers. The proposals would change the law to make it impossible for employers to insist on staff attending the workplace unless they can show it is essential. The Government will consult on the plan – part of a drive to promote flexible working – over the summer, ahead of possible legislation later this year.
Anywhere Jobs: Reshaping the Geography of Work June 16, Tony Blair Institute of Global Change
This report pieces together the data from various different sources and finds that roughly one in five jobs in the UK, or 6 million jobs, can now be classified as “Anywhere Jobs”, with characteristics that mean they can be done remotely or principally remotely as efficiently or more efficiently than in normal office working. It is also clear that for many employees, the experience of working from home has been beneficial and is likely to remain their preference, at least for certain days of the week. This is a vast and profound change in the world of work, with many implications for the jobs themselves and secondary effects on businesses that serve the conventional office. On the one hand, there is a risk that employers decide that Anywhere Jobs can be done as easily by those working abroad; on the other hand, if Britain takes the necessary measures of preparation to facilitate such working here, we could attract jobs from abroad.
Bosses face home working clase as new staff divide emerges June 15, The Telegraph
Bosses are on a collision course with staff over a shift to permanent home working as official figures indicate huge numbers of employees want to stay away from the office. The Prime Minister’s delay to the Covid-19 roadmap on Monday evening means hopes have been dashed for organisations seeking a return to normal from next Monday – with Goldman Sachs among a string of major employers expected to change their plans. However, figures from the Office for National Statistics released on Monday suggested that many staff are hopeful that they will not have to return permanently at all.
Late night emails from the boss could soon be easier to ignore June 8, MailOnline
Late night emails or calls from your boss could be easier to ignore if you are an iPhone user, after Apple revealed a new feature that lets you mute notifications. The Focus setting, announced at the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) last night, lets users setup their device to only allow certain people to reach them. When setting it up, you can name the ‘Focus’ and determine which apps and people can reach you while the Focus is activated – which can be for a time or at a place
Will workers return to the office June 6, The Economist
As Covid-19 infections fall and economies around the world begin to open, companies are facing difficult choices about their work culture. Should they demand that employees return to the office or allow them to keep working from home? Workers seem to have discovered a taste for the latter. A poll conducted by Morning Consult in March found that 87 percent of Americans who were working remotely during the pandemic wanted to continue to do so at least one day a week after life returned to normal.
FOMO and paranoia set to get workers back to the office June 2, The Telegraph
Heatwaves from summers past where Londoners endured train delays and cancellations feel like a distant memory. As millions continue to work from home, images of commuters battling through the sweltering heat to get to work this week will be few and far between. Major employers believe those days are over – NatWest thinks that just 13 percent of its workforce will mostly work from the office in the future. Yet there are pressures at play which could get more workers back to their desks in the summers to come. Although most companies are giving staff more say in how and where they work as the pandemic eases, the paranoia of missing meetings and networking opportunities could be the biggest driving force getting people back in.
Zoom boss says home working here to stay June 2, City AM
The shift to home working will be a permanent change to working habits, the boss of Zoom has said, as his company hiked its forecasts for the full year. “Work is no longer a place, it’s a space where Zoom serves to empower your teams to connect and bring their best ideas to life,” said Eric Yuan, the video app’s founder and chief executive. “We are energised to help lead the evolution to hybrid work that allows greater flexibility, productivity, and happiness to both in-person and virtual connections.” The comments came as Zoom last night hiked its expectations for full year revenue to just under $4bn (£2.8bn) — up from the $3.8bn it previously forecast.
Town centres are recovering faster from the lockdown than big cities May 31, The Mail
Britain’s town centres are recovering from the coronavirus lockdown much faster than big cities, new research has revealed. Data released today found the average number of people out and about in the UK’s largest towns and cities was just 22 per cent of pre-lockdown levels in the last week of May. But footfall was much higher in towns compared to cities, with activity levels in Aldershot, Hampshire at 57 per cent of numbers seen before draconian measures were announced in March.
Zoom boom lets Bank cut back on global travel – May 30, The Telegraph
Bank of England officials will cut back on global jetsetting as the Covid Zoom boom eliminates the need to travel as often as had been the case before the pandemic struck. Threadneedle Street insiders now hope to hit their emissions-cutting goals sooner than planned as they expect many central banker meetings and appearances to go virtual post-Covid. It is understood the remote working revolution has also swept to the Bank, which is allowing workers to be in the office as little as one day a week.
EY staff to work from home at least two days a week after lockdown eased May 25, The Guardian
Workers at accountancy firm EY will be expected to work from home for at least two days a week even after coronavirus restricitions lift, in the latest sign of the pandemic changing office life. The company, formerly known as Ernst & Young, on Monday told UK employees via video call that 17,000 staff will move to a “hybrid working model” that mixes work in the home and the office – as well as visits to clients – once social distancing advice is removed. The pandemic stay-at-home orders have prompted many office-based businesses to re-evaluate their working practices. Flexible working is seen by many employees as a perk, while for companies it offers the attraction of potentially cutting office costs.
Office refurbishments trump new construction as hybrid working era beckons May 17 – The Telegraph
New office construction starts in London jumped by a fifth in the six months to March, but more than half of the new pro jects were refurbishments as companies repurpose their offices for an era of hybrid working. Thirty-two new schemes broke ground between October and March, according to a survey by Deloitte, with new starts totalling 3.1m sq ft of space in the capital.
Zoom-free Fridays to be tested at HSBC May 10 – The Telegraph
Banking giant HSBC plans Zoom-free Friday afternoons for some UK staff in an effort to tackle stress caused by working from home during the pandemic. The trial programme follows similar plans announced by other firms to boost well-being among employees. It applies to its commercial banking unit, which covers current accounts, loans, mortgages and credit cards. The move comes as HSBC pursues plans to shrink its office space by 40% in a post-pandemic shake-up
Six reasons why home working will stick around May 7 – The Telegraph
This week saw the official reopening of our Washington DC headquarters, at least for fully vaccinated employees wanting to return. After 14 months of home working, it was a welcome relief to be able to bounce ideas off colleagues in person again, to reestablish that clear physical and time divide between work and home life, and to enjoy several sun-soaked strolls to and from the office. Yet overwhelming evidence suggests the forced pandemic experiment with remote working will leave a permanent mark on where work occurs.
KPMG’s 16,000 UK staff to get more time off work May 6 – BBC
Accountancy giant KPMG has told its 16,000 staff they can leave early one day a week as part of a move towards more flexible working after lockdown. It said staff will work at KPMG offices four days each fortnight, with the rest of the time at home or client sites. Staff will also get an extra two-and-a-half-hours off per week in the summer to “promote wellbeing” if they complete their normal 35 hours of work. KPMG’s move is another example of big firms overhauling home-office life. Jon Holt, chief executive at KPMG UK, said: “We trust our people. Our new way of working will empower them and enable them to design their own working week. The pandemic has proven it’s not about where you work, but how you work. We have listened to our people and designed this strategy around our staff and how they can best support our clients.”
Remote working is changing how bosses treat their staff for the better May 4 – TechRepublic
Remote working during the pandemic has led to a greater focus on employee wellbeing among UK businesses, according to new research from Slack. A survey of more than 1,000 UK workers found more than half (56%) felt that their employer had made improvements to work culture since the start of the pandemic by focusing on employee wellbeing or offering more flexibility. Companies that offer such initiatives are also more alluring to employees, Slack found: more than a third (36%) of UK workers said organizations that offered flexible working arrangements were the most attractive places to work, while a quarter (25%) of UK knowledge workers said they were more attracted to companies that actively fought burnout by being proactive about mental health and wellbeing.
Civil servants could work from home after pandemic as Rishi Sunak looks to cut costs April 27 – The Telegraph
Working from home could become a permanent option for some civil servants as the Treasury tells Cabinet ministers to consider keeping Covid changes that save money. Whitehall departments could also see office space downsized or more officials relocated out of London permanently in the new drive to reduce costs. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, on Tuesday wrote to all Cabinet colleagues announcing the “savings and efficiency review” and urging their cooperation.
Author Talks: Tsedal Neeley on why remote work is here to stay and how to get it right April 22 – McKinsey & Company
McKinsey’s Eleni Kostopoulos chats with Tsedal Neeley, the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. The award-winning scholar and expert on virtual and global work offers teams and managers a road map for navigating the enduring challenges of a virtual workforce.
Bank of Ireland plans new hybrid working model for staff April 15 – Irish Times
Bank of Ireland is to move to a new hybrid working model that will allow employees to work from a combination of central office and remote locations, and includes a wider number of remote working hubs around the country. The financial institution said surveys of employees revealed 91 per cent preferred a more flexible way of working post-Covid. At the beginning of 2020, some 3,500 employees at Bank of Ireland were working with some degree of flexibility; the pandemic has accelerated that process.
HSBC moves more than 1,200 UK staff to permanent home working April 7 – Reuters
HSBC is moving more than 1,200 staff in Britain to permanent working from home contracts, in one of the strongest indications yet of how banks are locking in changes to employees’ work patterns as a result of the pandemic to cut costs. Around 70% of the bank’s 1,800 call centre staff based across England, Wales and Scotland had volunteered to never return to the office, Unite, one of Britain’s biggest employment unions, told Reuters. Scores of companies have quickly cemented hybrid working and cut office space, but HSBC’s move to base some staff permanently at home goes further than most rivals opting for a mixed approach
Civil service strikes deal for ‘hybrid’ offices across the UK April 4 – The Telegraph
Civil servants will be able to drop into “hybrid” office spaces across the country after the Government signed a deal with one of the world’s biggest flexible working companies. The agreement with IWG will provide private office space in 10 cities and will also allow some officials to use any of the office giant’s sites. Whitehall sources said the deal included the Department for Work and Pensions and its new temporary job centres. Government staff involved in the scheme will be able to access its network of co-working spaces as bosses increasingly bet on hybrid working where time is split between home and the office.
Amazon and Google unveil plans to send workers back to the office April – City AM
Amazon and Google have both made changes to their work-from-home policies as they look to encourage workers back into the office. In a memo to employees, Amazon said it expected most of its corporate staff to be back in the office by early autumn. The company said it planned to return to an “office-centric culture as our baseline”. It added: “We believe it enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively.” It comes after Google said it will allow staff to return to the office on a voluntary basis from next month. The tech giant, which was one of the first companies to allow home-working when the pandemic hit last year, will continue its current work-from-home policy until 1 September. But following this it will only allow staff to work from home for more than 14 days a year if they applied to do so.
More employers reporting increased productivity benefits from homeworking April 1– CIPD
The productivity benefits of homeworking appear to have increased during the pandemic, with employers now more likely to say that the shift to homeworking has boosted productivity (33%) than they were in June 2020 (28%). This is according to new research by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, based on a survey of 2,000 employers and in-depth interviews with seven organisations in different sectors. The survey found employers are also less likely to say that increased homeworking has decreased productivity (23%) compared to last summer (28%), suggesting employers have had a significant net productivity benefit over the period.
People may quit if forced to work from home, Rishi Sunak warns March 26 – BBC
The chancellor has warned bosses that staff may quit if they are not allowed to work from the office as the UK emerges from lockdown. Rishi Sunak told the Telegraph that employees would “vote with their feet” and could consider leaving for a rival if made to work from home full time. A number of companies have announced plans to close offices prompting fears for city centres. But now the chancellor has urged firms not to abandon the office altogether. Mr Sunak told the newspaper that home working is no substitute for an office environment with “people riffing off each other”.
Nationwide tells 13,000 staff to ‘work anywhere’ March 25 – BBC
Nationwide is to allow 13,000 office staff to choose where they work under a new flexibility scheme. The UK’s biggest building society said its “work anywhere” plan would allow employees more control of their lives. Under the plan, Nationwide is closing three offices in Swindon, with 3,000 staff either moving to the nearby HQ, working from home, or mixing the two. Other UK staff may be able to work from their local High Street branch if they prefer, rather than travel to offices
Working from home and flexing hours will become the norm March 24 – The Times
The government will start a public consultation later this year on how to extend flexible working. Ministers are preparing to make flexible working a permanent feature of British life after coronavirus, with plans to strengthen employees’ rights to work from home or ask for different hours.
Brits may be given the freedom to work from home forever under plans to make flexi-working permanent. March 24 – The Sun
Home offices and Zoom meetings could remain the norm even after the pandemic as the government looks set to give office workers more choice in where and when they work. Brits may be given the freedom to work from home forever or whenever they choose. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is expected to look at extending the existing flexible working rights later this year. Current rules mean employees can request changes in working patterns and employers must deal with these in a “reasonable manner” within three month. Ministers may also extend the existing scheme further by introducing the right to request ad hoc flexible working, meaning Brits can change their hours to when it suits them.
Why office life will never be the same again by Former Trade Minister Lord Price March 22 – The Telegraph
I have been working from home for almost a year now. I’ve visited London just twice. The Prime Minister’s route out of lockdown brought home the reality that my routines will change again soon – but how? I don’t claim to have a crystal ball on the future of work, but I do know about how employees are thinking right now. In May last year, my WorkL digital platform launched a working from home survey to complement our longstanding workplace survey. Month on month we’ve been plotting employee sentiment to get a picture of the future of work as best we can. There is a feeling being mooted that in this third lockdown, people are less happy and more frustrated. While I don’t have any data for that in terms of general happiness, I can tell you from our research that it’s not the case for people working from home.
Working from home is revolutionising the UK labour market March 15 – Voxeu
Attitudes towards working from home have changed substantially since the start of the pandemic. This column discusses the findings from a survey of 5,000 working adults in the UK in January and February 2021, which suggest that about half of the UK labour force are currently working from home. Two days a week at home is the most commonly expected working pattern post-COVID, with implications for many large and medium-sized businesses.
Rishi Sunak says return to normal office working after pandemic will ‘probably not’ happen March 12, – The Telegraph
Rishi Sunak has said a full return to the office after the pandemic will “probably not” happen, pointing to emerging trends such as hybrid working and “hotdesking” in local serviced offices. The Chancellor said that working from home was obviously the “big unknown” to have emerged from Covid-19, with even small changes in people’s weekly patterns having “big implications” on the economy. He added that a regular commuter choosing to spend one day per week working from home meant 20 per cent fewer people travelling on public transport with knock-on effects for places such as cafes and rail companies.
Planning for hybrid working March 10 – CIPD
A wide range of research, including a YouGov survey and CIPD research, indicate that after the pandemic the majority of workers want to continue to work from home at least some of the time, presenting new opportunities for organisations to establish new ways of working. The CIPD’s Embedding new ways of working post-pandemic report shows that some 40% of employers said they expect more than half their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended. According to data from the Office of National Statistics, prior to COVID-19 only around 5% of the workforce worked mainly from home. The pandemic, and government mandates for people to stay at home, increased this significantly. However, according to CIPD research, before the pandemic, 65% of employers either did not offer regular working from home at all or offered it to 10% or less of their workforce. After the crisis, that 65% is expected to fall dramatically to 37%.
Working from home: Hybrid remote working may be the future March 4 – inews
HR directors, chief medical officers and directors of health and wellbeing across the world have been advocating flexible working for a decade – so why did it take a pandemic to bring about a revolution in remote working? The sudden shift to working from home a year ago may have changed the lives of office workers forever. Nearly half of all those in employment did some of their job in their houses or flats after the first lockdwown announced last March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – many for the first time. Now the Government is trying to work out when and how to get people back into offices, to help boost the economy.
Sick days don’t look so good now you can work from home – March 3 – Bloomberg Businessweek
A few months back, it seemed as if the coronavirus pandemic would kill off presenteeism—you know, showing up at work with a sniffle or cough to prove your value or ensure you get your paycheck. Companies that didn’t offer paid sick leave were sure to wise up, realizing it was madness to create incentives for workers to spread germs on the job, and Type A workaholics would see that putting the entire office at risk of infection is more selfish than selfless. As it turns out, presenteeism just got a new address: the kitchen table. “You’re expected to be always accessible, because where else could you be?” says Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow.