In response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Coopman Search and Selection published an Attracting & Retaining Talent in a Post-Pandemic World Guide in 2020.
By Andrew Murphy, Co-Founder, Coopman Search and Selection.
As part of this, research was conducted through the collection of survey responses to understand how companies planned to implement flexible working policies. This research is compiled of responses from 91 employers across Ireland and London, from companies ranging in size from 2-250+ employees.
The results from our survey found that 46% of employers expected employees to be in the office at least 2 days a week, with over a third (39%) stating 3 days in the office would be an ideal model. 7% felt 4 days in the office would be required, while 5% stated 1 day in the office would be a good balance, with “2-3” and “3-2” models the most common for hybrid working; that is, 2 days in the office, 3 days at home and vice versa.
In 2020, structured flexibility was not on the agenda for most employers, with 77% or respondents stating it would not be mandatory for employees to be in the office on certain days of the week as part of a hybrid model. Of those that would introduce structured flexibility, Monday and Thursday were the most popular office-based days.
Since 2020, we have seen a significant shift in this trend, largely in response to economic conditions and the ability of the firms in question to meet those challenges. As uncertainty runs rife and pressure mounts, 85% of leaders said hybrid working has made it more difficult to have confidence that employees are being productive while working from home, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Pulse report. Comparatively, 87% of professional respondents said that they are indeed productive, which is bolstered by research conducted by Microsoft of their own product usage, indicating a seismic disconnect between employee and employer perspectives.
Nonetheless, the tide is starting to turn, and we have seen several firms across industries recently announce they want to see employees return to the office full time.
The implications of this shift have yet to unfold in terms of employees leaving their roles in response, and may not fully materialise as we transition from an employee-led market to employer-led, as the volume of roles looks to reduce in 2023 as recessionary measures kick in.
Considering the difficulties in managing full flexibility, we have seen several firms across professional services, financial services, and further afield change tact from 2020 and pivot to a structured flexibility model, implementing set office days. Some companies refer to these as “anchor days”, where everyone in the firm is to be present for meetings and team collaboration which appears to offer a solution and compromise to the disconnect previously mentioned.
At Coopman, we have adopted anchor days on a 2-2-1 model; Tuesday and Wednesday in the office, Thursday at the individual’s discretion, while Monday and Friday are worked from home. Initially we mirrored 77% of companies by not implementing structured flexibility, however since doing so we have found the response to be very positive.
Gone are the challenges of trying to keep track of people’s days at home and in the office, which leads to further issues in co-ordinating both internal and external meetings.
Instead, everyone now knows each other’s availability and the team can co-ordinate effectively, enjoying a busy office environment for the days we are all in which is crucial for culture.