Some 58% of workers want to return to the office in some form following a year of working from home, new research from Deloitte has confirmed. However, attitudes towards the office are changing says Managing Director of Lincolnshire-based commercial interior design and fit out company APSS.
According to the survey, which focused on a number of industries across the UK, just 23% wish to continue to work from home all, or almost all, of the time once lockdown restrictions are lifted. Around 42% of those surveyed wish to move forward with flexible working, with a minimum of two days working from home a week.
APSS has seen a big change in priorities for businesses across the country over the last year. Managing Director Laurence Barrass said: “Back in March 2020, no one really knew what to expect. No one knew how long this pandemic would have businesses closed or working at reduced capacity for. We saw many of our live projects and enquiries put on hold. However, this was only for a very short period of time whilst information and direction from the government became much clearer.
“We found many of our customers still wanted to invest in their offices, although be it in a very different way to before the pandemic,” Laurence continued. “Before, companies were looking at how they could maximise office space and include as many staff as possible in very much an open plan format. Now, with social distancing being very much normal practice and many businesses adapting to both working from home and in the office, the focus has shifted to making economical use of space for meeting rooms and creating more efficient and safe environments for their employees.
“The enquiries we have seen over the last year have ranged from full office refurbishments and new office fit outs to mezzanine installations to create more usable space, whilst other businesses have chosen to adapt their existing workspace with fresh office layout designs and the installation of Perspex screens as a form of protection against COVID-19.”
Will Gosling, Human Capital Consulting Leader for Deloitte, said: “This isn’t the end for the UK’s workplaces. Many companies will invest in revamping their spaces in the coming months to encourage teams to work creatively and collaboratively when they do venture into their workplace. Desks will be replaced with meeting rooms and training spaces, creating a vibrant hub for collaboration and skills training. For most of the week, teams will prefer to work primarily from the comfort of their own home, which the past 12-months has shown also allows them to be at their most productive.”
Businesses have also taken the opportunity, whilst the offices have been relatively empty, to invest in upgrading its facilities from reception refurbishments to full toilet refurbishment programmes.
Laurence added: “The way businesses work today has most definitely shifted and the majority of staff have adjusted. But there is a fine balance to ensure that businesses continue to run smoothly. Call centres, for example, work best with a support team around them and it is much harder for them to work from home efficiently without detriment to the customer, however other businesses are finding they are adapting their office to be a central hub of operations to meet with the team but continue to have a large proportion of their staff working remotely”