Remote working was a phenomenon born out of necessity in the pandemic. But fast-forward three years, and it’s become the new normal for ‘white-collar’ workers across the UK. However, in the last year, employers have ramped up the reintroduction of in-office hours; at present, the vast majority of companies have adopted a hybrid model of working. This typically consists of a few days per week in-office, yet the rest spent working flexibly from home.
In contrast, some jobs remain entirely remote, whilst other bosses are pushing for 4 – 5 days in the office. It’s safe to say, the argument pitting in-office and remote working against each other remains one of the most talked-about topics in the world of work.
But what are the pros and cons of both ways of working? And will employers and employees ever see eye to eye on this debate?
Remote Working: The Pros and Cons
In the red corner, we have remote working. After all, it makes sense to tackle the most popular candidate first! Recent polls have shown employees’ overwhelming preference for working from the comfort of their own home – and we don’t blame them! There are a plethora of pros to remote working, most of which go hand in hand with the ever-increasing desire for flexibility.
Many companies have become less rigid in their expectations; the standard “9 to 5” is now a thing of the past. Flexible hours – otherwise known as ‘flexitime’ – are becoming increasingly favoured by employees, as they fit work around their busy lives, as opposed to vice versa. The mantra “work to live, not live to work” springs to mind. Flexible hours are complemented by the working from home lifestyle, as employees thrive in this more accessible, palatable way of work. Plus, it doesn’t bear thinking about how much money is saved from a lack of commuting!
However, there have been varying reports on how remote working affects employees’ productivity. There is no denying that remote working reduces fatigue and improves mental health, thus subsequently increasing job performance. Despite this, some employers have noticed a lapse in employee efficiency, which may be a direct result of their new-found autonomy – free from the watchful eye of their manager. Employees who are watching Netflix on the sly, we see you!
Conversely, many employees claim that being trusted inspires more productivity. Micromanagement is a slippery slope, and remote working frees a lot of employees from this anxiety. Perhaps the real question is: how much do employers trust their employees?
In-Office Working: The Pros and Cons
Whilst remote working may be the favoured option for many, there is good reason why an increasing number of employers are actively seeking employees who are willing to go into the office. After the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions eased, people tested the waters by coming into the office for important team meetings, or for work socials. However, slowly but surely, a hybrid working model has become the general norm. Many companies are now advertising roles with mandatory in-office hours: anything between 2 – 4 days per week. Similarly, some bosses are demanding that hybrid workers – with prior flexibility – should now come into the office for set days every week, with “card swipe data” used to monitor this shift back to pre-pandemic ‘normality’. But why are bosses so adamant in enforcing this?
The cons to in-office working are obvious, and are generally detrimental to the employee. In-office working provides less flexibility, higher costs – not to mention a lack of home comforts! Many believe that mandatory in-office working is outdated – particularly in a world which now prioritises mental wellbeing and a work-life balance. However, there is no denying that the benefits of in-office working – at least for some portion of the week – can enhance the work life of employers and employees alike. For example, in certain industries, many teams benefit from collaborating in person, finding that nothing beats bouncing ideas off each other in the same room! Learning by observation is also particularly helpful for those who are starting out in their careers, and can only be achieved in a co-working space. Many employees benefit from modelling their own work on real-life examples, which results in boosted confidence and job performance.
Beyond creative collaboration and productivity, in-office work also enhances the social side of your job too. Many have confessed that remote working 100% of the time can make them feel a tad stir crazy! It’s certainly beneficial to break up the week with stints in the office, simultaneously strengthening the team dynamic. Also, in-office working allows HR professionals to have a more tangible presence in the team; if the HR function is present in the office on certain days, for example, they can be available for a friendly chat, to where possible de-escalate issues.
What Does the Future Hold?
At Mason & Dale Recruitment, we are experiencing a surge of clients who are looking for candidates willing to work in-office, across a number of industries. We predict that, in tandem with the new phenomenon of the 4-day working week, many employers, in return, will demand mandatory days in-office. Not only is this to ensure maintained productivity, but also to instil team spirit – at a time where building community is more important than ever.
However, we also predict – and can already see – backlash against this, with many believing that this is a form of regression. There is no denying that times have officially changed: remote working is here to stay, and there will always be jobs available which offer solely remote positions.
Our honest opinion? Hybrid working offers the best of both worlds, and paints a promising future in the world of work. What’s more, there will always be roles which benefit from more face-to-face collaboration, whilst others allow employees to fly solo from the comfort of their sofa. Either way, whatever your lifestyle preferences are, there will be a role out there for you.