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Return-to-office mandates are failing globally, study finds


: A D O B E


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Workers are coming in on average 1.4 days a week at companies that require office attendance twice a week, the same figure as those with no obligation to attend, according to a study from workplace consultancy AWA.

Gemma Dale, business lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, said employees are resisting arbitrary office working.

She said: “We know that the demand for remote and hybrid work has been sustained.

“People want it, are prepared to move jobs for it and have built their lives and budgets around it. The latter being especially important in the current economic climate.

“People will continue to resist demands to return to the office that conflict with their preferences, and importantly when they cannot see the benefits to them or how they do their work. Too many return-to-office attempts can seem to lack logic or clear rationales.”

In the UK workers are attending the office 1.6 days a week, up from 1.45 a year ago.

The majority (70%) of offices in the study have less than 40% attendance on average, while over a third (37%) said they would be looking to consolidate their office space due to reduced demand.

Ben Marks, executive director of the #WorkAnywhere Campaign, said businesses need to design flexible policies that match employees’ needs.

He said: “Without remote and hybrid work, millions of people, including many parents, carers and people with disabilities, would be unable to access employment, and businesses need to recognise that a dogmatic back-to-the-office approach is a huge step backwards.”

Cashflow issues push planned redundancies up 54%

The number of planned redundancies in the UK rocketed by 54% in the 12 months ending 31 July, according to new research.

Successive rises in interest rates have piled pressure on UK businesses’ cashflow, resulting in a leap of 83,382 planned job cuts, up to 237,017, in 2022/23 compared with 153,635 in 2021/22, according to analysis from employment law firm GQ Littler.

Since December 2021, the Bank of England has raised rates from 0.1% to 5.25%, making it significantly more expensive for businesses to service loans. The high rate of wage growth, estimated by the Office for National Statistics as a 7.8% average increase between April and June 2023, has pushed businesses’ cash expenses even higher.

Some sectors have seen even higher pay growth, with pay packets for finance and business professionals growing 9.4% in the same period. The double impact on business’ cashflow has seen many look to redundancies as a potential cost-cutting measure, according to Caroline Baker, partner at GQ Littler.

“The last year has seen a real change in confidence in the economy.

“In particular, inflationary pressures and the

UK looking like it might be dipping into recession have meant that companies are now looking carefully at their structures and assessing where they can make savings to keep them profitable, or at least afloat, through a tougher economic market.”

6 HR September/October 2023

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