The New Zealand Herald

Pay us to come back into the office, say UK workers


London’s office workers aren’t keen to return to the workplace — but money would help to change their minds.

A survey found that, on average, workers want a pay rise equivalent to the cost of some annual railway season tickets to return to their desks full-time after the pandemic.

With Covid-19 restrictio­ns leaving many offices empty, white-collar staff have spent 16 months mostly working from home. Just 17 per cent now say they actively want a full-time return to the office, research for workplace analytics firm Locatee shows.

However, cash would entice 43 per cent of employees back into the office.

In London, that equates to an average of £5100 ($10,050) — virtually the same as an annual railway ticket between London and the commuter town of Tunbridge Wells, in Kent. The United Kingdom national average was £4000.

The research underscore­d the difficulti­es in engineerin­g a postpandem­ic “new normal” for business. Ending legal coronaviru­s restrictio­ns this week, amid a surge in infections in London and around the UK, has not yet spurred a large-scale return.

Rising wages and prices are fanning concerns at the Bank of England about when to pare back stimulus put in place when the virus hit the UK in early 2020.

If London workers were to get the salary bump they are seeking to return full-time, it would be the equivalent of a 15 per cent increase in the median salary there.

Many firms want staff back and are already planning for a hybrid future that includes regular home-working in order to keep them on side.

“Businesses run the risk of losing talent if they don’t offer some flexibilit­y,” says Thomas Kessler, chief executive officer and founder of Locatee. Employees, on the other hand, “still want to feel part of a larger unit, surrounded (sometimes physically) by colleagues, and supported by the business.”

The survey, which was carried out by YouGov for Locatee, also found that almost one-third of people look

ing for new jobs now expect to work from home at least two days each week.

Although most still prioritise salary when looking for new jobs, 47 per cent now cite flexible working as one of their top requiremen­ts.

Yet while staff are seen as valuing flexibilit­y and remote work, 24 per cent of companies want their employees back full-time. That may be welcomed by younger workers, with almost half of 18- to 24-year-olds worrying that remote working could hinder their career progressio­n.

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