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WFH

Working from home wars: UK employers toughen remote working rules

Mandated office returns signal wide-spread resignations with 54% of employees saying WFH is ‘non-negotiable’.

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60% of UK workers feeling the pressure to return to the office.
The majority of employees reported they had to work 3 days in the office.
Job seekers are becoming less interested in their employer’s attitude to sustainability.

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Employers are toughening up remote working rules with 60% of UK workers feeling the pressure to return to the office, according to new data.

In a recent Randstad UK survey of 2,000 UK workers, over half agreed that cutting the working from-home (WFH) options may prove counterproductive with 54% saying WFH was “non-negotiable.”

When employees were asked what they would do if told to increase office time, 55% said they would consider quitting their job – Millennial and Gen Z workers felt the most strongly with 63% and 62%.

The research also highlighted a disconnect between the amount of time workers wanted to WFH versus the hours employers wanted them to work in the office. When asked: “How many days per week would you work from the office versus working remotely?” workers said the ideal would be 2.5 days in the office.

The majority of employees reported they had to work 3 days in the office. The industry with the closest match between expectations and reality was financial services, with employees working 2.5 days in the office matched by their employers demanding 2.5 office days.

The survey asked workers if they would reject a job if it didn’t provide flexibility around where they worked 39% agreed with 48% of Generation Z saying the same. When asked about their current job and/or potential future employment, 81% of workers said flexibility of working hours was paramount –  unchanged from last year.

Flexibility of hours was most important to Millennials (84%) and Generation X workers (82%), Boomers (79%) and Gen Z (78%). 69% reported that flexibility regarding remote working was important – unchanged from last year.

The top priorities of employees remain unchanged: work/life balance (95% – compared to 94% last year); pay (94% – compared to 93% last year); and job security (91%).

The top priorities of employees remain unchanged: work/life balance, pay and job security.

Job seekers are becoming less interested in their employer’s attitude to sustainability, diversity, and transparency – with 22% surveyed saying it is ‘essential’ – compared to 31% a year before and 36% describing it as ‘somewhat important’, compared to 41% last year.

The Randstad UK survey echoes research previously carried out by TALiNT Partners, with their ‘Clash of the Cultures’ report on how the pressures for employees to work in the office affects how organisations attract and retain talent –  where flexible working is no longer an option.

The findings of the TA and staffing leaders concluded that the process of getting employees back into the office has been diverse, reflecting the unique circumstances and priorities of each organisation. Whether driven by sustainability goals, flexibility, mandates, incentives, or regional considerations, the key has been to strike a balance that maintains employee buy-in, productivity, and well-being while preserving the benefits of in-person collaboration. Adaptability and a commitment to employee preferences have been central to this transition.

TALiNT Partners’ CEO Ken Brotherston said: The WFH pendulum was always going to swing back from completely remote working to somewhere in the middle and 2-3 days a week always looked like the norm, so I get that employers feel the need to enforce what looks like a perfectly reasonable policy. And I get that it can be especially galling for employees who play by the rules and make the effort to be in three days a week to see other colleagues seemingly doing what they please.

But companies are facing a difficult balancing act to ensure they have the right people in the right roles in the right place and there is clearly no one-size-fits-all approach. Likewise, employees need to make their own judgments about what the long-term effects of being disconnected from their colleagues might be regardless of whether their employer has an explicit policy or not.”

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