Whilst Cabinet Office minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has urged civil servants to return to the office, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that businesses in other sectors are planning to implement a long-term culture of hybrid working.
According to statistics, the number of organisations using or intending to include homeworking as part of their permanent business model increased from 16% in autumn 2020 to 23% in April 2022.
33% of firms involved in real estate activities said they would adopt it long-term, whilst more than half (54%) of businesses in the information and communication sector expressed an intention to include it as part of their permanent business model. Meanwhile, only 3% of firms in accommodation and food service industries said they would, citing logistical complications.
Although the data suggests that improved staff wellbeing, reduced overheads and increased productivity are amongst the key motivations for this shift, employers still have a duty of care towards all employees, regardless of their work environment.
Tina Chander, Head of the Employment Law team at Wright Hassall, commented: “Despite the removal of all Covid-related restrictions, these latest statistics show there are still a large number of businesses eager to continue a culture of hybrid working.
“Understandably, there are many employees that have grown accustomed to working from home throughout the pandemic, and are now reluctant to make a full-scale return to the office. From a business perspective, the widespread acceptance of hybrid working presents an opportunity to save money on office space, whilst enhancing employee morale.
“That being said, employers still have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workforce is protected, even if employees are working from home full-time.
“This includes the creation of a comprehensive hybrid working policy that contains the necessary health and safety risk assessments, allowing employers to spot potential issues early on, so that adjustments can be made before they escalate into serious safety concerns.
“Ultimately, the emergence and widespread popularity of hybrid working is designed, in part, to improve the lives of employees, so it is vital that their health and safety is also looked after.”