UK managers predict slow return for workers as Covid concerns remain
Nearly half of UK staff have returned to the office at least part-time, but new data shows managers expect numbers to level off amid lingering concerns over the spread of Covid-19 and the shift to flexible working practices.
A survey of more than 1,000 managers by the Chartered Management Institute for the Financial Times found that nearly a third of companies have reduced their office space due to the introduction of hybrid work models.
The vast majority of organizations surveyed have adopted a combination of home and office work for their teams, with an average of 44 percent of staff returning to the workplace at least part of the time.
Managers expect that figure to rise to just 56% by the end of 2021, suggesting that the flexible working practices adopted by many employees during the pandemic are unlikely even after. the end of the national lockdown, relax completely in the short term.
Ann Francke, CEO of CMI, said the slow return to the office was due to a combination of factors, including “the Delta [coronavirus variant], fuel shortages and the implementation of hybrid practices and remote solutions ”.
“Most employees who can work in a hybrid fashion want to do so. [and] in a tight labor market organizations are more likely to adapt to this, ”she added. “Once the confidence that Covid is contained increases, I am sure we will see that number increase further. “
More than half of managers said they encourage staff to get vaccinated before returning to the office. Labor rules in the UK, unlike the US, mean few insist on jabs before allowing people to come to the workplace.
However, about a fifth of employers have asked their employees to voluntarily disclose their immunization status, which is likely to lead to unspoken pressure on employees.
Almost two in three managers said they feared the Delta variant could lead to another lockdown for UK businesses, with half warning them that the government’s winter plan had not given them confidence. More than half said their companies already have contingency strategies in place for another shutdown.
“Managers are prepared and organizations are now in a much better place to deal with bottlenecks. Managers have learned from the events of the past two years. . .[most]have a plan B – or even C – in place, ready to be implemented if necessary, ”said Francke.
Most companies still restrict staff travel but, a positive sign for the aviation industry, just over half said they had resumed at least some international flights while limiting them to essential travel only.
Managers also reported the growing crisis in attracting qualified professionals to their organizations. Nearly seven in ten managers said their company was hiring for leadership positions in September.
White-collar jobs are now in high demand as businesses emerge from lockdown and seek to rebuild, sparking wages for jobs in the legal, consulting, finance and accounting professions. Almost a third of those polled said it was now more difficult to recruit for managerial positions than before the pandemic.