1 in 4 UK businesses considering adopting ‘right to disconnect’ policies

Research carried out by Owl Labs in their annual State of Hybrid Work study which polled 500 business leaders* based in the UK suggests that the majority (84%) of UK businesses plan on having a hybrid, flexible or remote workforce post-pandemic. What’s more, only 16% of companies expect employees to return to the office full-time. Nearly two-thirds (59%) of business leaders believe that hybrid working makes companies more profitable with 73% of enterprise businesses (1000 plus employees) stating that hybrid working positively impacts company profits. As a result, a staggering 88% of UK business leaders are keen to explore progressive policies aimed at the future of work post-pandemic such as working from anywhere, unlimited holidays and four-day working weeks. 

As the UK continues to open up, business leaders expect a partial return to the office as only 9% of business leaders plan on getting rid of their office space permanently. Nearly one-third (32%) plan to keep their footprint the same but with lower capacity and desk space due to social distancing measures, whilst a further 18% are keeping their footprint the same due to the provision of increased collaborative spaces rather than individual desk space. UK business leaders are cautiously optimistic with just 16% believing that the pandemic will disrupt business activity for another year. To support the return to the office, over one-third (35%) of business leaders are considering providing onsite COVID-19 testing facilities to encourage employees to return to work. Surprisingly, close to a quarter (23%) of UK organisations are planning to enforce ‘vaccine passports’ and only allow those who have been vaccinated into the office. Compared with Germany, France and the Nordics, the UK was the second most likely to consider enforcing ‘vaccine passports’. 

A more permanent shift to hybrid working comes as close to half (41%) of business leaders believe that remote and hybrid working has impacted their business positively. The three business areas that were impacted most positively include: employee wellbeing (46%), overall employee morale (46%), and business costs (49%). As a result, over one-third (34%) of business leaders are planning on hiring employees who can work remotely, based on their skill, rather than their proximity to the office. What’s more, the majority (73%) of business leaders believe hybrid work improves overall profitability with 55% citing that it led them to hiring better talent and increased productivity due to wider talent pools, while 47% stated that it boosts employee retention (with employee turnover being costly), and 30% stated that it reduced employee illness and absenteeism. 

Following the success of business policies adopted during the pandemic, a staggering 88% of UK business leaders are keen to explore progressive policies aimed at the future of work post-pandemic, including introducing a WFA (work from anywhere) policy (37%), a 4-day working week (42%), core hours (43%) and unlimited holiday policy (18%). Consequently, just under one -hird (32%) of UK organisations are developing new HR policies that will aim to keep all employees engaged and treated fairly for all in-office, hybrid and remote workers. There’s also a significant appetite among business leaders to introduce the ‘right to disconnect’ with 27% considering policies that would aim to ensure home life and work life doesn’t bleed into each other for remote employees. 

A robust tech stack will continue to help companies successfully fuel a hybrid working model post-pandemic. As office spaces change so will the tech we use to power them. Consequently, nearly all (94%) of UK organisations are putting policies in place to prepare for a post-pandemic workplace, with the UK leading the way in tech investment with nearly half (46%) of business leaders investing in new tech and solutions to support a hybrid workforce. More specifically, 43% of organisations plan to adopt communications tools (such as Slack, Zoom, and Meeting Owl conference cameras) compared to just 28% in the Nordics, 36% in France and 38% in Germany. Over one-third (37%) are providing at-home and in-office equipment for employees so they can easily work from both locations (37%). 

Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs says, “It’s encouraging to see the majority of UK business leaders embrace hybrid work post-pandemic and start adopting more progressive policies such as working from anywhere. As organisations have adapted to working remotely, they’ve seen how profitability and productivity remain positive. The UK is leading the way in investing in new technology which will continue to play a key role in supporting this permanent shift to hybrid work. Businesses that successfully make the long term transition to hybrid working will be the ones who adopt the infrastructure and workplace policies that enable their employees to maintain high levels of creativity and collaboration, wherever they dial-in from.”    

Author: Editorial Team

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