This is huge news, as Zurich confirms what most people guessed regarding new working patterns in office-based jobs. No matter what `back to work’ drivel Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham or others feel like spouting on TV and radio, times have changed. There is little chance of reviving the bulk of the Pret/Costa economy in London and other cities, because it’s day is done. Finished.
Now let’s talk commuting. People who have suffered the misery of travelling 2-4 hours a day on jam-packed trains, trams and buses are not going to want to go back to that – and add mask-shaming, Covid contagion via door handles, seats and handrails that aren’t cleaned properly, plus intimidation by BLM protestors or XR demo delays on top. No thanks, will be the response from many employees and managers alike.
The public sector shows no sign of returning to office life, so why should those working in the private sector be treated with less respect?
Choice, flexibility, work/life balance and virus avoidance – that’s the new normal at Zurich;
As UK businesses turn their attentions to return to work strategies, Zurich UK ‘flex it up’ further by offering employees the option to work where it works for them. The business is now giving employees the opportunity to select a new ‘fully flexible persona’ which will enable them to change the location of their working week.
Pre-lock down, three out of four employees already enjoyed some form of flexible working, a culture early adopter Zurich has had in place in various forms for the past decade. The majority (35%) worked from home 1-2 days a week.
The business carried out a ‘lockdown learnings’ study across its 4,500 strong UK workforce to find out what they really want when they return to work. It seems people want the best of all worlds. The study revealed two out of three employees (59%) would like to work from home for more than half of the week when we move back to the pre-Covid world of the office – of these a third only want to come into the office one day a week. This is six times the amount of people that worked in this way in the first quarter of the year.
Steve Collinson, HR Director at Zurich UK comments, “While there’s no silver bullet for how and where people work, we know they want the flexibility to work the hours that suit. But we’ve found the location is also a huge factor. Our research has shown us that not everyone wants to work from home five days a week forever. In effect, they want the best of all worlds which is perfectly fine. As an early adopter of flexible working, we’re in a very different space to the majority of businesses. Our lockdown transition was seamless, so allowing people further freedom to revisit where they want to work is a natural next step in our journey.”
Homeworking is not for everyone
Full time homeworking is not for everyone. The study also showed that one in four simply can’t wait to get back to the office. The desire to be back varies drastically across life stages. Half of those that live with people other than family members want to return to office life, 38% of employees that live with parents and 26% of those that live alone. A further 50% of those surveyed are simply missing seeing their colleagues every day.
One in three want four out of five days at home
There are currently just 7% of UK workers who work full time from home. The research also revealed that a further 33% would like to work from home 80% of their working week. These employees will be able now be able to approach their managers to discuss revising their working patterns to meet their individual needs.
This new policy is based on four ‘personas’:
• Our office-based employee
• Our contractual homeworker
• The ‘on the road’ employee
• A new ‘fully flexible’ employee
Zurich operates from six major sites across the UK, employees can select any one of these or work from home, whichever fits best with the day they have ahead of them.
Steve Collinson concludes, “The world has changed this year and we can’t ignore it. We’ve all had a chance to re-evaluate our lives and reassess our priorities. Just by giving employees the chance to work from home one day a week for example, we would save them thousands of hours commuting that could be spent exercising, meditating, having breakfast with their families or simply catching up on home admin. This is valuable time that we’re effectively giving back to people. This time could improve the quality of their lives immeasurably – in return we get a far happier and more productive employee. It’s a win-win as far as we’re concerned.”