Half of workers 'would quit if they had to go back to the office five days a week'

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Almost half of all office workers would quit their jobs if asked to go back to the office five days a week, new research suggests.

A study indicated that towns and villages across the UK could see a major financial boost thanks to the growth of hybrid working because of the pandemic.

Research by the International Work Place Group (IWG) and design company Arup found rural and suburban economies 'could generate up to an extra £327 million a year' due to the forecasted expansion of flexible office and co-working spaces to meet the growing demand for hybrid work.

Towns that have experienced major increases in demand for office space include Bromsgrove (153 per cent), Marlow (66 per cent) and Evesham (58 per cent), according to the research. 

New research found almost half of office workers would quit their jobs if they were told to go back to the office five days a week

Towns and villages across the UK could see a major financial boost thanks to the growth of hybrid working because of the pandemic, a study has shown

The study also estimated that more than 4,000 new jobs can be created to support office workers who look to cut down on commuting and work from locations closer to where they live.

IWG said its research suggested that almost 50% of all office workers would 'quit their job' if they were asked to go back to their office on a permanent five-day basis.

IWG predicts that the change will see dramatic changes to commuting times. In the UK the current average commute is 58 minutes.

Mark Dixon, chief executive of IWG, which provides flexible work and office space, said: 'Over the last 18 months we've seen businesses not only recognise the benefits hybrid working has on their productivity and their bottom line, but this report demonstrates its growing importance to local communities too.

'Throughout the UK we are seeing previously dormitory towns and villages come back to life as workers split their time between home, a local workspace and corporate HQ.

Workers returning to offices are 'struggling to cope with noise' 

Many workers returning to offices are struggling to cope with noise or problems with facilities such as video conferencing, a new study suggests.

Research among 2,000 adults indicated that most of those who worked from home during the pandemic have now gone back to offices at least once.

The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management said only one in four of those it questioned noticed any changes to their office layout on their return.

Seven in 10 home workers in the West Midlands, Northern Ireland and London have returned at least temporarily to the office, compared to half in the South West, Wales and North West, said the report.

Scottish workers were said to be the least likely to have tried to return.

Half of respondents believed they are more productive working from home, especially among younger workers.

Linda Hausmanis, chief executive of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management, said: 'We are now at a tipping point, where the majority of us have had the chance to sample working from the office once again.

'For far too many this has been a disappointing and frustrating experience. Employers must invest to allow workplaces to reflect new working realities, or risk a calamitous decline in productivity.

'As we move into new modes of working, businesses must adapt physical spaces, working culture and supporting technologies.'

Seven out of 10 returning workers said they struggled to identify any changes to their offices since before the pandemic, and half felt their office needed modernisation.

Almost one in three said they no longer felt comfortable sharing a desk with a colleague.

'With hundreds more rural and suburban flexible working locations expected to open in the coming years, we expect a wide range of vibrant local communities develop with thriving businesses at their heart.'

The report used the company’s growth plans of 800 to 1,200 new workspace locations in suburbs, towns and villages across the UK by 2030. It then modelled the economic impact of that growth, using expected occupancy rates in the new workspaces, across the country.

Up to 30 per cent of the global office market is likely to be flexible by 2025 according to the property consultancy JLL, which researchers say will lead to a major shift in where and how people work.

Instead of travelling from villages and commuter towns into urban centres, more workers will be located at smaller offices closer to their homes. 

The biggest financial boost will come from local spending by new workers, which is calculated to be worth up to £171m a year, with retail and hospitality businesses likely to be the biggest beneficiaries.  

Recent research by IWG found a third (33%) of office workers expect to return to the office five days a week, while nearly three quarters (72%) said they would turn down a 10% pay rise in favour of the ability to work flexibly long term.    

It comes after a recent poll found more than two thirds of people think workers will never return to the office full-time following the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 70% of people surveyed by YouGov for the BBC said workers would 'never return to offices at the same rate' as before the pandemic.

Senior leaders surveyed by the polling organisation warned continued working from home will damage creativity.

A study from researchers at Microsoft released earlier this month also said that working from home reduces creativity, as well as communication and teamwork.

It comes after Boris Johnson revealed his 'Plan B' for tackling Covid over the winter and threatened to bring back wide-scale working from home rules if infections soared.

Home working could be set to return after being eased over the summer after Mr Johnson's top medical and scientific advisers warned last week that 'winter is coming' and he might need to 'go early and go hard' with restrictions. 

However, the Prime Minister's winter plan alarmed businesses and enraged Tory MPs, who heckled Sajid Javid in the Commons as he said it includes the 'Plan B' of making masks compulsory 'in certain settings', more working from home and social distancing if the NHS is under threat.   

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