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Employers could lose best talent in office exodus

By Dawn Gibson

Almost half of workers do not expect to return to the office this year and most never want to work a typical office job ever again, according to new research released to coincide with the start of England’s second national lockdown.

While there is widespread acknowledgement that Covid-19 has changed the way we work forever, ushering in a new era of flexible and remote working, a survey of more than 2,000 British workers commissioned by accountancy consultancy Theta Global Advisors reveals how fundamentally the pandemic has altered our attitudes to work. The survey also highlights how employers unwilling to embrace flexible working arrangements risk being left behind as their best employees leave to join rivals or start their own companies.

A total of 44% of people surveyed do not expect to return to the office until at least 2021, and, more significantly, 57% do not want to go back to a conventional office job with normal office hours. This indicates that around 12 million people have had enough of the traditional nine-to-five, with huge implications for the economy and the labour market.

Four out of 10 respondents said the pandemic has made them realise what a poor work-life balance they had pre-lockdown, and they would not return to it after Covid. Six out of ten said the workplace of the future would have to change drastically for the better to avoid losing its best talent to freelancing and consulting.

The survey also reveals that 65% of workers do not feel comfortable commuting to work via public transport anymore and consider it one of the most stressful parts of their day.

Chris Biggs, Managing Director of Theta, warns that far more must be done to ensure that employees can work in a way that allows them to be productive and prioritise the needs of their families effectively. “Companies could risk losing some of their best talent to either more flexible company cultures or freelance and consultancy work if they do not react to the new normal of professional practices," he says.

"With lockdown forcing millions of Brits back into their home offices and behind kitchen tables, many will be frustrated by the new restrictions, but 2020 has shone a light on new working practices and how work fits in with the rest of our lives. Mental health will once again be under the microscope over the course of the month-long lockdown; and working from home and a better work-life balance will be part of the solution.”

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