CommercialSeptember 30, 2021

The future of work is more than hybrid

For over a year, we’ve seen great success from the UK’s en-masse migration to remote working where roles were able to be performed at home.

With reports showing a surge in productivity and happiness following the move to home working,1 employees are becoming more vocal about what they want their workplace to look like – and employers are listening.

Larger corporations are mostly embracing hybrid working

The Evening Standard recently asked FTSE 100 firms about their return-to-work plan.2 Of those who responded, the vast majority confirmed that hybrid working was here to stay.

Following feedback that 77% of their employees want to work from home at least three days a week, Lloyds Banking Group is aiming to reduce its total office space by 20% over the next three years.

Mining group Rio Tinto has introduced a flexible working policy for all their office-based employees around the world but holds that on-site offices will remain important for “face-to-face meetings, networking and team collaboration”.

Global investment firm Standard Life Aberdeen seems to be taking a more literal approach to hybrid working. Chief Executive Stephen Bird says, “We want our offices to be collaboration spaces where people want to be…in our London office at Bow Bells House, we’ve completely redesigned the space, removing the banks of cramped desks to create open-plan zones for people to interact and generate ideas.”

Mark Read, Chief Executive of advertising multinational WPP, says the company will never go back to fully on-site working. “Our people will work more flexibly, in our offices, with our clients and from home.”

Why should SMEs change?

Already we are seeing employees quit their roles after being told they would have to return to the office full-time3, while nearly half of office-based UK employees say they would look for another job if told the same.4

As well as retaining top talent, making sure your workforce is engaged and happy yields a wealth of benefits for business, including:

  • Increased sales by up to 37%
  • Productivity boosted by 18%
  • A drop in absenteeism (which costs the average UK company £554)5
  • Outperforming organisations with low levels of engagement by 202%6

Hybrid working is just the beginning

There is a disconnect between what CEOs believe the new generation of talent want compared to what they actually want, Glassdoor has found.7

While CEOs cite practical perks like flexible work hours as a top benefit priority for young employees, this is only a part of it. From their own reports, millennials value purpose and a wider sense of connection from the workplace, as well as using ethical and sustainable practices to fulfil big picture business objectives.

However, it isn’t just millennials. “Even pre-Covid, stats on millennial expectations at work were generally in line with multigenerational data,” reports Fast Company.8 One theory for this is that the pandemic and climate crisis have prompted a desire for change for most employees, regardless of their age.

While employers largely embrace hybrid working as here to stay, questions arise about what else could be possible when it comes to shaping the future of the workplace. Employers may feel overwhelmed by the speed at which the modern workplace is changing but should take solace in the fact that even multi-generational workforces are united in core values and can therefore offer businesses a unique opportunity to focus their messaging, ethos and strategy.

If you would like to learn more about insurance for the workplace, or for your team, please contact The Insurance Centre on 01524 848506.


  1. UK workforce finds happiness in ability to work from anywhere |
    2. FTSE 100 firms share latest London office plans following WFH year, with many set to embrace flexible working | Evening Standard
    3. Return to Office: Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Work From Home | Bloomberg
    4.New research finds half of workers could quit jobs if businesses ignore employee work from home preferences | HR News
    5. The ROI of Employee Happiness | Knight Frank
    6. 15 Employee Engagement Statistics You Should Know in 2020 | Clear Review
    7. New Survey: Company Mission & Culture Matter More Than Salary | Glassdoor
    8. This is the thing employees want most from their employers | Fast Company