Office Life or Office Strife: Employers face delicate balancing act as divided demands of the modern workforce emerge from lockdown

  • New research from O2 Business has revealed that employers need to be prepared for the divided demands of the modern workforce emerging from lockdown.
  • One year on since the start of the first lockdown, there is a tension for employers as workers are divided between those who want to return to the office full time (10%) and those who don’t want to go back at all (32%).
  • O2 Business has identified the new work-life personalities– from the Home Dwellers to the Office Cravers – that organisations need to prepare for, and accommodate, in order to create a sustainable working environment for the future.
  • And it’s not just where they work, but the hours worked too, with over a quarter (27%) of workers wanting to move to a model of fully flexible working hours after Covid-19.
  • The stakes are high for all organisations: nearly a quarter (22%) of employees have applied for a new job in the last three months, with many (26%) citing their employer failing to accommodate their changing and future lifestyle needs was a key reason.

LONDON, 18th March: Employers must prepare for the divided demands of the post-lockdown workforce, with expectations around the way we work shifting dramatically over the last year, according to the new report from O2’s Business division: Creating a Dynamic Workforce

The birth of the new work-life personalities

O2’s new insights show that it’s the social aspects of the office that employees miss most, with 63% of workers lamenting the loss of a catch up with colleagues throughout the day. Not everyone agrees however, and one year on from the start of the first lockdown, there is a tension for employers as workers are divided between those who want to return to the office full time (10%) and those who don’t want to go back at all (32%). And it’s not just where they work, but the hours worked too, with over a quarter (27%) of workers wanting to move to a model of fully flexible working hours after Covid-19.

To help support organisations through the changing needs of their employees, O2 Business has identified the new work-life personalities – from the Home Dwellers to the Office Cravers and the Mixers in-between – that organisations need to prepare for, and accommodate, in order to create a sustainable working environment for the future.

The Office Cravers

Covering just 10% of workers are the Office Cravers who, post-lockdown, want to be back in the office as soon as possible, permanently. Many of these workers are young people who miss the social elements of work and the lively office environment. This group of social Gen Z’s are less satisfied with their work-life balance now (57% vs. 77% prior to Covid-19) and are more likely to rank socialising with colleagues as the most important factor for being productive at work. At the other end of their careers are the Office Cravers who are made up of those in senior positions who are more likely to have worked from the office in periods during the pandemic. This group are keen to get back in the office full time as quickly as possible and are more likely to work in the professional services industry.

The Home Dwellers

The O2 Business data reveals that 16% of workers have enjoyed remote working in lockdown so much that they’d like to work from home permanently after lockdown. This group is made up of people who want to work purely at home to better fit around their hobbies, for their mental health or to spend more time with family, friends and housemates. This group is also more likely to agree that it can easily access the work systems needed to work from home and that its employer has made sure technology is readily accessible.

The Mixers

The majority of workers (74%) are The Mixers, those who want the ability to work from a mixture of places, be that the home, the office or elsewhere. This group includes the Nomads. After Covid-19, this group of adventurers would like the flexibility to work in a range of locations e.g., an office (74%) multiple private locations (33%), coworking spaces (36%), and whilst travelling abroad (31%). The Nomads are more productive when getting regular exercise and when able to travel whilst working. They are mostly 25-34-year-olds and are in higher salary income bands (£80k+). Nomad’s also feel that their employer could provide them with better tech to be able to work in their preferred way, productively. Others in The Mixers group want to benefit from building in more time with their family whilst also getting the social benefits from being in an office too.

Employers must adapt to new personalities or they risk losing talent

If businesses and other organisations don’t respond to the changing needs and personalities of their workforce, they risk losing talent. O2’s research reveals that many workers are already not happy with how their workplace plans to return to ‘normal life.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of people have already applied for a new job in the last three months. The top reason for leaving behind pay and promotion (33%) was that their employer can’t or won’t adapt to their changing and future lifestyle needs (26%).

O2 Business is urging employers to try and use these remote-hybrid models to create a policy that is sustainable for the long term and that will be flexible enough to suit the varying needs of different workers. If organisations don’t adapt, they risk talent leaving their businesses and a loss of productivity, with research showing that 48% of employees would be more productive if their employer enabled them to work in their preferred way after Covid-19.

Jo Bertram, Managing Director at O2 Business, said: “This research has revealed the situation faced by employers coming out of lockdown, with employees expecting more flexibility when it comes to managing their work-life balance going forward.

“Whilst the pandemic has been a difficult time in many ways, the adversity has forced us to find new ways to keep our employees connected using remote technology. Businesses and organisations must continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of their workforce to ensure they continue to attract and retain talent”

At O2 Business, we remain committed to helping customers stay connected, be that working from home, the office or other locations going forward.  We want to support organisations in enabling their employees with the right tools and tech to allow flexibility in their working lives.”

O2 itself has a strong heritage of flexible working, with an approach based on trusting its people to do the right thing. This has meant O2 employees adapted quickly to 100% home working where required throughout the pandemic, and positions the company in a strong position amongst the growing trend of hybrid working as lockdown restrictions lift. O2 has also found that flexible working has been critical to building a diverse and inclusive culture – building on its track record of establishing leading family leave and care leave policies, designed to empower parents and balance work and home life commitments.

Download the full report by O2 Business here: https://www.o2.co.uk/business/why-o2/insights/dynamic-working

For information about how O2 Business can support you and your employees, please visit https://www.o2.co.uk/business.