Three years since first lockdown over third of employees would quit if called back to office

But new research finds jobs market is moving against them

Liam James
Wednesday 15 March 2023 15:13 GMT
UK will not go into recession this year, Hunt announces

More than one-third of employees have said they would resign if ordered to return to the office full-time, as pandemic-era changes to working life remain in vogue nearly three years after Britain first entered lockdown.

Jobs market research carried out by LinkedIn has found that businesses might be wise to prioritise flexibility, despite fears that their workers are covertly slacking from the comfort of their bedrooms.

Nearly two-thirds of employees are considering a job change in 2023, yet one-fifth of those would stay in their current role if they were able to maintain the ability to work remotely or with greater flexibility.

But jobseekers hoping to work from home in a new role may be disappointed as the number of fully remote postions advertised in the UK has been falling for ten months in a row.

Ngaire Moyes, LinkedIn’s UK manager, warned that businesses could struggle to attract and retain staff if they remove flexible working policies. “We have adjusted to a new ... way of working and of course most people don’t want to go back to how things were pre-Covid,” she added.

Demand for remote working roles is particularly strong among women, with more than half reporting having left or considered leaving a role because of a lack of flexibility.

The data also revealed a generational difference in attitude towards working practices. Those considered to be Generation Z, born from the late 1990s up until the first decade of this century, are the least likely to apply for remote roles, suggesting they want to spend more time in the office learning from more experienced colleagues.

Generation X, born between 1966 and 1981, are the most likely to prefer working remotely, accounting for more than one-quarter of applications for remote roles in February.

Overall, 44 per cent of workers in the UK said they worked from home at least once a week between September 2022 and January 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is down from a peak of 49 per cent in 2020.

The great working from home debate has raged since the threat from Covid-19 was considered low enough for employees to safely be within a few feet of one another.

Reams of conflicting research on homeworking has been published in the past couple of years, showing differing levels of productivity, work-life balance and wellbeing.

Higher levels of flexible working have been reported in the public sector than private, according to the Parliamentary Office Science and Technology – underlining a high-profile dispute last year which saw then-Cabinet Office minister Jacob Rees-Mogg attempt to goad civil servants into returning to the office.

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