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80% of UK office workers could fight back against short sighted bosses who are not planning future place of work options or not preparing effectively for flexible working after Freedom Day on July 19th. This is according to research from the UK’s largest online venue booking platform, VenueScanner.

The research, based on survey responses from 1000 office workers, revealed that only 1 in 5 expect to be fully office-based when lockdown lifts fully in England this month. Despite the high numbers continuing to work mainly from home, only a fifth of bosses (19%) have bothered to share what workers’ future place of work options are.

What is more, 72% of respondents say that disgruntlement due to the wrong actions by their employer over place of work choices might make them quit their job, with one major bugbear being fear of permanent isolation from colleagues. 94% said that they still want to spend some time with work mates but only a quarter (24%) said that their employer was ensuring that face to face team contact would happen.

Rebecca Kelly, CEO and founder of VenueScanner, says, “The future of work is set to be flexible but it will never be fully remote; while we don’t need to be sitting next to each other to get work done, employees do need to get together to create, to celebrate, to collaborate and to feel connected. This is true now more so than ever and these figures reinforce that.”

One company recognising the need to make in person contact a priority is CoursesOnline. General Manager, Sarah-Jane McQueen, comments, “We’re fortunate that the nature of our work means that there isn’t anything we do in our day-to-day roles that warrants us being face to face. However, through lockdown it’s become very clear that as humans we still crave contact – even our more introverted team members want to have social gatherings to connect, bond and celebrate our wins.”

Just over a quarter of 18 to 24 year olds (26%) would consider leaving if bosses scrap team socials and Christmas dos and a third (31%) of 35-44 year olds would consider leaving if bosses banned working from home altogether.

The research, conducted by Sapio, also highlights that while home working will be the norm for many, in person contact with colleagues will be crucial to workers’ mental health and performance moving forward. 86% said this contact was important for their mental health; 83% said it was important for job satisfaction; and 82% said it made a difference to performance and productivity.

VenueScanner’s Kelly continues: “The traditional office worker looks to be a thing of the past but employers must be able to facilitate positive in person experiences if they want to attract and retain the best people, drive productivity and look after their employees’ health and well being.”

Sophie Scott, workplace wellbeing expert and psychotherapist, comments: “People are at the root of any company; human connection and feedback are crucial in moderating behaviours and validating progress. Without in-person experiences and seeing the whites of our colleagues’ eyes, we not only lose connection to our teammates, but to ourselves.

“We’ve survived the pandemic, but most of us have not thrived working in this way. Teams need to come together again so managers can do some mindful course correcting to help their teams perform and be happy.”

Only 9% of workers surveyed said they have formally had their contracts changed to reflect remote working and 7% face salary cuts due to home working. This is higher amongst 18-24 year olds (10%) perhaps because bosses see younger workers as being more expendable.

VenueScanner has released a report based on the research to help employers work out how to create effective remote and flexible working teams. To access the report, click here.