The role of the office has changed dramatically.
Both employers and employees are finding large-scale remote working is effective.
Already, people are spending more money in independent shops and cafés on suburban high streets.
Major companies are moving out of city centres:
Outsourcing firm Capita – a major government contractor – is planning to permanently close more than a third of its offices in the UK in favour of more flexible working.
Coronavirus: Working from home damaging economy, Raab warns – BBC News
The traditional office, then, is dead:
Although the office may not have completely lost its raison d’être, its role has changed dramatically, says Capita’s CEO Peter Harrison: “The contract between society and business has changed forever. The office will become a convening place where you get teams together, but the work will be done in people’s homes.”
A large number of British workers appear to be happy with this new reality. A recent study by researchers at Cardiff University and the University of Southampton found that 88% of employees who worked at home during lockdown would like to continue doing so in some capacity, with 47% wanting to do so “often” or even all the time…
Here are three reasons I can think of why WFH is still so dominant in the UK:
Avoiding commuter hell. Commuting is not much fun in most places, but it’s particularly hellish in the UK.
Many UK businesses embrace WFH. They stand to reap significant cost savings, particularly on office rents.
The lockdown lag. It could be argued that UK workers are slightly behind the curve in their return to work, though the lack of progress since the lockdown was lifted might suggest otherwise.
Work from Home Gets Entrenched: Embraced by Workers & Businesses in the UK, it’s Upending Real Estate, Retail, Restaurants, Bars, Cafés | Wolf Street
The home-office in the suburbs is alive and getting better:
The pandemic has made a different future possible. The experience of lockdown proved to many employers what they had not quite believed (and would never otherwise have tried): large-scale remote working is effective. Even after the health threat from Covid-19 has passed, it’s likely that many employers will continue to allow staff to work from home some of the time, given the cost savings…
A drop in the number of commuters to city centres would be a blow for businesses like Pret that were perfectly calibrated for the pre-Covid era of pressure-cooker urban hubs. But there will be winners too. Already, people are spending more money in independent shops and cafés on suburban high streets…
Cities will not die, but their benefits could become more diffuse, with well-paid workers spread further into the rest of the country. The government’s job is to ease this transition, not to harangue people into going back to a world that wasn’t working anyway.
Goodbye to the ‘Pret economy’ and good luck to whatever replaces it | Financial Times
There are plenty of other issues, however:
The Trade-Off Of Working From Home Could Be Far More Sinister Than We Realised | HuffPost UK
Coronavirus: ‘Why I hate working from home’ – BBC News
Staff working from home do nearly an extra hour a day as research shows they send more emails | Daily Mail Online
Dominic Raab pleads for Britons to get back to the office | Daily Mail Online
Majority of legal workers say working from home has improved their work-life balance – Legal Cheek
Working from home: A third of employees think they’ve been more productive since the start of lockdown – HR News