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Dynamic working: New flexibility for employees, new challenges for employers

More employees want a dynamic working model when they return to the office post-pandemic, creating new challenges and concerns for employers. Lucy Clayton, Head of Business Thought Leadership Marketing at O2, explores the new way of working with insights from our latest report.

For many, 2020 offered a chance to experience working from home for the first time – and it’s quickly changed employees’ attitudes toward traditional working models. Our dynamic working research, conducted in January 2021 of 2,099 employees at organisations across the UK, found that more than three quarters (76%) would now like some level of flexibility in where they work.

Our latest paper explores the survey results in greater detail – revealing the key reasons behind employees’ eagerness for dynamic working, and some compelling predictions for employers to consider as they plan their new working models.

But if you’re looking for a quick glimpse into new employee attitudes, continue reading.

Employees now have a strong appetite for dynamic working

It’s no surprise to see employees’ enthusiasm for dynamic working – it offers major benefits to demographics previously excluded by traditional office models.

People with caring responsibilities, who previously may have had no choice but to leave the workforce, now have opportunities to continue their career. Employees with disabilities have the option to work without having to navigate often restricting physical workspaces. And people who live away from the main office, or want to move to new locations, have the freedom to do so without losing their job.

Interest in dynamic working models also differs between generations. Deloitte’s 2020 Global Millennial Survey revealed that 64% of Millennials and 60% of Gen Zs want a mix of office and remote working in the future. Also, our own report revealed that 10% of ‘Office Cravers’ who’d like to return include Gen Zs who have just joined the workforce and are looking for camaraderie, support and opportunities to progress their career.

But not everyone is so eager to adopt permanent hybrid working models – some employers still have their reservations.

New concerns and risks for employers

Many employers have already made costly investments in city centre real-estate that may no longer be necessary for their business if employees choose not to return. Also, hybrid working teams often make it difficult to keep employees engaged and motivated while they’re away from the in-office team.

It’s not just about motivation either. Remote and lone working that involves little interaction with other team members can have a significant impact on employee mental health. Also, in cases where employees have poorly equipped home workspaces, it can impact physical health too.

But employers can’t just solve these concerns by mandating a full return to the office – those that try might find some of their top performers moving onto companies with more attractive, flexible working models.

Striking the balance between office and remote working

Over the next few years, employers will face the challenge of designing a working model that meets the needs of both ‘Office Cravers’ and remote workers.

We’re already seeing industry leaders paving the way for this blend of working. Spotify is taking cues from the way its people worked at home during the pandemic by creating dedicated spaces in its offices to suit different tasks and moods.

Spotify’s Head of Design and Build, Sony Simmonds explains: “Working from home redefined our notion of comfort. We’ve realised that the sea of desks and meeting room combination doesn’t really work. We have to create spaces that let us choose where we want to work.”

However, it’ll take more than just comfortable office spaces. Our research suggests that employers will need to provide resources for all modes of working – including home office equipment like ergonomic chairs, and reliable home broadband connections with 4G/5G dongles for backup.

Start thinking about your strategy today

There’s no clear roadmap for every organisation’s dynamic working strategy – it’ll be unique to your employees’ needs. But we have got some helpful predictions around where industry leaders are heading, and some key ideas you should consider as you adapt to post-pandemic working.

  • To find out more about the future of work – and how you can better support the freedom, flexibility and fulfilment of your people – dive into our new paper.
  • For more insights on the future of work check out our videos, blogs, podcasts and website.

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