Project management Consultancy London
Who we areAre you ‘fatigued’ from working at home?
Boris Johnson’s announcement just over a year ago that the British people must stay at home changed how many people worked and how most people lived.
Twelve months on, many of us are still working from home at makeshift desks or kitchen tables, wondering if we’ll ever be able to return to our offices. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has warned bosses that staff may quit if they’re not allowed to work from the office as the UK emerges from lockdown.
During an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr Sunak warned that employees would ‘vote with their feet’ if they were forced to work from home full-time. Mr Sunak added that working from home is no substitute for the office environment that breeds spontaneity and teambuilding when people actually spend physical time together.
Howard Dawber, head of strategy at Canary Wharf Group, believes people are keen to return to the office because working from home has left them ‘fatigued’ and are missing the office and city centre life. However, Mr Dawber believes that the return to working from the office will be gradual and expects the many people will still work from home for part of each week.
Canary Wharf Group is the developer behind 7,500,000 ft² of office space and owns the Canary Wharf financial complex in London, which currently only has 6000 people on-site compared to 100,000 before the coronavirus pandemic.
Opinion is split in the city with Lloyd’s Banking Group set to reduce its office space by 20% over the next two years after a staff survey found that nearly 80% of staff wanted to work from home for at least three days a week. Goldman Sachs have rejected working at home as the new normal. Barclays’ Chief Executive Jes Staley believes that working from home is not sustainable, saying at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum that it will ‘increasingly be a challenge to maintain the culture and collaboration that large financial institutions seek to have and should have.’
As a small business, HUSH PM&C has been able to keep their offices open since the first lockdown, though working from the office has been on a voluntary basis. Chris Bushell, a Director at HUSH PM&C, said, ‘As a project management and consultancy company within the construction industry, site visits are a regular part of our job, allowing us a real break from being at home.’
Mr Bushell added ‘I believe that now café’s, bars, restaurants and shops are reopening there will be a massive desire to get back to the office. The real issue around this will be employers, because of health and safety concerns being comfortable that their offices provide a safe environment for their staff.’
Selina Pickwell, Operations Director at HUSH PM&C, agrees. As her role is primarily office-based, she enjoys working from the office when her colleagues are also there. The opportunity to work both from home and the office is appealing as it combines the social aspect and office dynamic, going for a coffee or a drink after work and avoiding long commutes that reduce the time available to work on projects.
Hybrid working that combines time in the office with working from home combines the best of both worlds, improving work/life balance by allowing employees the opportunity to work from home for a couple of days a week and working in the office for the remainder of the time, allowing for mentoring, training, and interaction with colleagues.
Many organisations sceptical about homeworking say they haven’t seen any drops in productivity because their staff weren’t in the office and planned to follow the Lloyds Banking Group example by allowing their teams to work from home for some of each week.
Chris Bushell and Selina Pickwell from HUSH PM&C are both proponents of hybrid working who want to mix the benefits of home-based work and office-based work once lockdown is eased and life returns to a ‘new normal.’