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In contrast to trends pre-pandemic, new research from global workspace broker, First Office Hub, shows that workers want space to socially distance and easy-to-clean offices above amenities such as gyms, pool tables and free booze when they look to return to the office.

The new research commissioned this month, comes as employers prepare for the winding down of the UK’s job retention scheme, shows that employers must get the basics right for their employees to willingly return to the office when it’s safe to do so.

Commenting on the findings, Clive Buckley, Founding Partner of global workspace broker, First Office Hub, expands: “Whilst we have no doubt that once things start to return to “normal” demand for office luxuries will return, what our stats show is that if employers get the basics right in the immediate term, they are likely to have an easier transition back to the office. The COVID-19 pandemic really has had a significant impact on attitudes towards commuting into the office, it’s made a lot of workers reassess what is important to them in terms of their working and home lives. 

“The conversations we’re having with businesses looking for office space are around making their staff’s return to work as smooth and stress-free as possible and key to this is ensuring enough space to socially distance and modern wipe-clean surfaces. Some organisations are upsizing their office space to allow for social distancing, and some are downsizing as they cater for fewer numbers working at the office. Interestingly, creating mini hubs around commuting stations or closer to where large groups of employees live is also now an important consideration.”

  • After closely following COVID-safe requirements, respondents ranked an easy commute as the next most important factor, as employees reassess their work life balance following this extensive period of time at home.
  • A significant proportion (42%) don’t anticipate the whole of their company being back in the office until Spring 2021.
  • The research also investigated what employees have been missing about the office since working from home and shows that women are missing the sense of team spirit and opportunities to collaborate, whereas men have been longing for a change of scenery and atmosphere.
  • And interestingly, 43% of respondents report that their productivity has stayed the same while WFH compared to 26% who say it’s decreased and 31% say it’s increased.
  • Similarly, in terms of workers’ sense of personal wellbeing, 43% saying they feel the same WFH as working at the office. 
  • It’s not all bad news, with almost half of male respondents (45%) reporting they have saved upwards of £21 per week on food and drink whilst working from home. For women this is a more modest saving of up to £10 (45%).

First Office Hub’s research continues to paint a varied picture of Britain’s workforce returning to work with just over one third (35%) of office-based employees having returned to the office full-time during the brief period earlier this month where they were encouraged to do so.