Hybrid is working, but firms want employees back in the office

The question is why?

As the pandemic took hold, companies across the UK adopted hybrid working to keep their businesses operational.

Now, a significant study conducted by Towergate Health & Protection has revealed that most companies have adopted a hybrid working approach, with 30% saying that most of their staff split their working time between home and their usual place of work.

The study found that, on average, 39% of employees across the UK work on a hybrid basis, rising to 47% among large companies. However, over half (54%) of employers are now trying to encourage employees back to the office, with mandatory office days and free meals/drinks being the most popular tactics.

Encouraging employees back to the office

Despite this, transitioning from hybrid working back to the office will require a careful mix of incentives. According to Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, “health and wellbeing support will be fundamental”.

The study found that many companies have already started to offer wider health and wellbeing support based at the workplace. Still, with hybrid working now being the norm, these benefits will have to work hard to encourage people back.

Support will need to be appropriate to the workforce’s different demographics and employees’ differing needs. This means offering a wide range of options, covering all four pillars of health and wellbeing – physical, mental, social, and financial – to help the transition back to the workplace to be healthy, positive, and productive.

Supporting those who choose to stay home

As well as motivating employees to return to the office, health and wellbeing support will be vital for those who still choose to work from home.

Working from home can potentially bring a host of health and wellbeing issues. These can include musculoskeletal issues from not having a good work desk setup to the mental pressures of isolation and lack of social contact.

Employees may even be hit financially by the current high costs of heating their homes while they work. So support may be as diverse as virtual physio appointments, online counselling, and financial education, and this will need to be coupled with access to face-to-face support too.

Debra Clark concludes: “As working styles widen, employers will have to widen their health and wellbeing offering to match. This will be in terms of what they offer and where. Information gathering will be key and varied methods of communication will be vital. Support will need to include a mix of remote and in-person, and we’re going to see an increase in the use of wellbeing platforms to make support easier to access too.”

The most popular tactics used to encourage staff back to the office:

  • Access to the gym 28%
  • Mandatory office days, 29%
  • Free meals and/or drinks, 29%
  • Onsite wellbeing days 27%
  • More onsite socials 24%
  • Subsidised transport/commuting costs 24%
  • Access to in-person counselling 22%

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