Nearly three-quarters (73%) of office workers in London would leave their job if they were no longer able to work from home for some of the week, and only a significant pay rise would change their minds.
A survey of 500 employees with offices in central London, conducted by Bloomberg Intelligence, found that 95% were permitted to work from home in some capacity, and for many this was their preferred working arrangement.
Of those who said they would leave their jobs if home-working was denied, 64% said only an inflation-busting pay rise of 11% or higher might change their minds.
Some have already changed jobs in order to get more flexibility: three-quarters have either changed jobs or would look to do so in the next six months to secure hybrid or fully remote working arrangements. Seventy-seven per cent of workers aged 55-65 have sought new employment.
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However, concerns about being asked to return to the office full time were low. Only 1% feared either losing their job or receiving a minor pay rise if they refused to return to the workplace.
Only one in eight (12%) said they were worried about being laid off in the weak economy and would not change employers if they were asked to return to the office.
Recent research from Gartner found many large organisations were considering implementing return-to-office policies this year. Seven in 10 business leaders had concerns about collaboration, culture, creativity and engagement, while 54% of HR leaders felt employees were less connected to their organisations.
The increased cost of commuting, driven by fare increases amid rising living costs, had put 67% off returning to the office, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s survey. The average daily cost of public transport in London is set to increase by 5.9% from 5 March 2023, following a 3.8% rise a year ago.
Inflation was 10.1% in January 2023, and the average employee saw real-terms pay fall by 2.5% at the end of 2022.
Sue Munden, senior industry analyst for real estate at Bloomberg Intelligence, said: “London employers have adapted to the new working trend by offering more flexibility, based on our survey.
“We believe that flexible working will remain prevalent for the long term.”
Bloomberg Intelligence compared the responses to the February 2023 survey to results from a similar survey conducted last June. It found that the proportion of people working fully remote fell from 24% to 19%, but employees stating hybrid working is a permanent offer from their employer increased from 46% to 70%.
The most common hybrid working arrangement in the capital is two or three days a week of WFH for 57% of respondents.
The survey also found that:
- Higher salaries (60%) and better amenities (37%) would tempt more London employees back into the office
- 37% said networking created an incentive to go into the office, while 28% were drawn in by higher productivity and 19% said office working provided more collaborative working opportunities.
- Employees under 41 years old could be more difficult to retain, with 75% willing to change employers.
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