Microsoft research suggests hybrid work is here to stay

65% of surveyed employees feel no pressure to return to the workplace when restrictions are lifted

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Microsoft research has revealed that almost 20% of UK employees don't want to back into the workplace when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Over 4,000 UK office workers took part in Microsoft's 'Work Smarter to Live Better' survey, conducted in partnership with professional body CIPD, and their responses suggest that hybrid working strategies are here to stay. 

While the country is still under lockdown and many businesses have been forced into hybrid working strategies, 65% of respondents suggested their organisation had stepped up and supported their workforces. What's more, the majority (63%) of respondents from businesses with more 'formal' remote working policies said they felt no pressure to return to the office, even if guidelines allowed it. 

The research has come at a crucial juncture of the UK's third lockdown as the government is set to announce plans to lift the restrictions in the coming weeks. It is expected that schools might be reopened in March, with businesses potentially allowed to bring people back into the workplace in April.

With social distancing measures set to stay in place, it is likely that businesses will continue to allow working from home or a mixture of in-office a remote working.

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A number of tech firms have recently 'tested' hybrid models and some, including Microsoft itself, have suggested that prolonged remote working isn't healthy or good for business. According to the company's survey, however, many employees (56%) reported they were happier working from home. The improvements the shift has brought to home life seems to be the biggest reason, with 55% enjoying more time with family during lunch hours. 

The trade-off, it seems, is that the workday seems to be longer, with one in three (30%) respondents working beyond their shift. Employees have also said they miss meeting their colleagues in person, with 65% saying it's what they miss most about the office. 

As the UK and the rest of the world moves towards a 'new normal', the use of hybrid working may evolve and a 'remote-only' strategy isn't likely to be used as a long term strategy. 

"This is not home-working in normal times - much of this experience has been enforced home working and many people have been dealing with a range of additional pressures and anxieties," said Ben Willmott, head of public policy at CIPD.

"It is, therefore, crucial that line managers ensure people are not over-working and provide flexibility and support to anyone struggling with any aspect of working from home."

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