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As we come out of lockdown and we are encouraged to return to the office, the debate continues as to what the post-pandemic workplace will look like.

Among large employers we see the full spectrum:

  • Those offering their teams full working flexibility, such as Nationwide Building Society who have said their staff can work permanently as they choose. Similarly, Twitter was amongst the first to say that employees would be allowed to stay away from the office permanently.
  • The likes of Standard Chartered Bank have adopted a similar proposition but also allow staff to work in remote 3rd party offices.  
  • EY recently announced that 17,000 staff will move to a ‘hybrid’ working model.
  • Some like J P Morgan have written to their shareholders announcing that they are planning to downsize and reduce their office space.
  • Google said they expected 20% of staff to work from home permanently.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, the likes of Goldman Sachs have said they expect their staff to return to the office full time.

The Prime Minister announced on 12 May 2021 that the Government intends to drop the guidance that people in England should work from home if they can from 21 June 2021 – see this summary from Watford law firm VWV .

A survey of 2,000 UK workers conducted by financial firm Barnett Waddingham suggest that ‘a third of workers could leave their job if employers do not continue to provide for flexible working beyond the pandemic.’ Click here for the full story

Moving forward the reality will most likely be a hybrid model, with the ability to work where you prefer seen as a key benefit when hiring, especially as a number of surveys have demonstrated that productivity has not suffered as   a result of home working – quite the opposite in many cases.

Companies seen as progressive and caring will indeed be those offering a flexible working set up. They will be the ones most likely to attract talented staff, and even lure away key people who have become accustomed to the benefits of not having a daily, lengthy, and expensive commute and have enjoyed better quality of family life.

It will be essential for businesses of all sizes to have a central contact point that can seamlessly communicate and distribute calls and messages to team members wherever located.  Those not so efficient and agile may run the risk of irritating and losing customers who may move to what they will perceive as more professional companies.

A business friend of mine who specialises in telemarketing told me he is surprised by the number of sizeable businesses he calls where, in order to speak to the person he is after, is asked to call their mobile rather than be put through to their extension. Would the caller bother if it was a new customer enquiry? Likewise, another business partner regularly misses calls from her IT provider as the display on her mobile shows No Caller ID when they ring (calls she never takes!) – she is now changing supplier…

In future, the hybrid model is highly likely to be the norm, with people working partly at home or in a remote location, and partly in the office.

There are many things we missed during lockdown: the human contact; the stimulation and camaraderie of weekly or monthly team meetings; social events; the ability to read body language at interviews, during a work review or whilst engaged with a new prospect, so people will want and need to meet in person.

However, with the highly sophisticated communication systems now available, the improvements of broadband speed and the migration to sophisticated Cloud Voice systems, many functions can be performed away from the traditional office environment  

If your systems are not up to the new reality of working, then please get in touch and we can help you achieve seamless connectivity to enable professional hybrid working.

Jon Pentel

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