Almost half of Brits would RESIGN if their company forced them to return to the office

Employees may resign if forced to return to the office

New research reveals returning to work may be fraught with more challenges than small business owners may expect. 

With current government advice encouraging all those who can work from home to do so, it’s no surprise that Britain’s businesses and employees are navigating a new normal.

At a glance

  • 45% of office workers would be willing to take a pay cut in order to continue working from home long-term

  • 84% of UK full-time workers are planning on working remotely in some form for the rest of 2020

  • 61% would be concerned if their company started to use remote activity and productivity monitoring for home workers, with over a third (36%) saying they’d be likely to resign if so

Research from Owl Labs reveals Britain’s attitudes to work during and after lockdown has eased. The majority (84%) of UK full-time workers are planning on working remotely in some form for the rest of 2020, while almost half (41%) would be likely to resign if they were forced to return to the office against their will.

Almost half (44%) of UK full-time workers plan to work a full five day working-week from home, with 55% planning a more hybrid role with one to four days in the office.

With working from home likely to become part of the future of working life, 45% of office workers are willing to take a pay cut in order to continue working from home in the long-term.

Pay cuts favoured over forced return

15% would be willing to take a pay cut of 5%, the equivalent to £1,518 a year when looking at the average full-time UK salary of £30,353.* However, if companies were to enforce pay cuts without offering benefits in kind, such as freedom to work from home, it’s a very different story.

Office workers would be likely to resign from their current role if their company were to cut their pay as part of cost savings across the business (46%), or if their employer cut their pay if they chose to move to a suburban or rural location to work from home permanently (41%).

With the change in ways of working, and additional financial pressures brought about by COVID-19 and Brexit, many companies may be looking for ways to cut costs and save money.

While reducing office space to facilitate increased calls for working from home could be an option, companies should be careful about eyeing up employees wages. If their employer were to make a cost of living adjustment to their salary to take account of savings made through commuting costs when working from home, etc. over half of employees (51%) would find it unfair and would start looking for other roles, while 8% would find it unfair and quit, even if they didn’t have another job to go to.

Communication is still key

“Maintaining effective communication, regardless of location, is more crucial than ever in today’s world,” Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs said. “As offices continue to work remotely and the adoption of hybrid working increases, there’s a growing demand for products and services that help productivity and allow blended teams to communicate effectively and stay as close-knit as they were before the pandemic.”

Companies will need to be agile and open to employee expectations when navigating this changing working landscape and working life.

However, there are opportunities for nimble companies who can move fast to recruit the best talent regardless of location, to cut operational costs with smaller offices, and have a loyal and happy workforce by offering flexible hybrid working to better fit in with employees’ work-life demands, according to Weishaupt.

Changing employee expectations

With the shift in working practices, it shouldn’t surprise employers that there has also been a shift in employee expectations when it comes to what employers should be providing to their staff, both at home and in-office.

Three-quarters of employees (74%) believe their company should pay for, or provide, office technology equipment (including laptops, printers, and extra screens) when they work from home, with half (50%) believing they should provide office furniture (including desks and ergonomic chairs).

While some companies may already be exploring this home hardware support, half of employees believe their companies should contribute to WiFi and phone bills, and 48% to electricity bills when working from home, something not regularly supported by companies.

When workers do eventually return to the office, or for those who are currently unable to work from home, 62% of workers believe their employers should provide free COVID-19 tests, with 65% saying free PPE (such as masks, gloves, and antibacterial gel and wipes) should be provided as standard.

The shift to increased working from home provides workers with more flexibility and freedom, but employers concerned about their workers’ productivity should think carefully before introducing remote monitoring technology.

When working from home, 61% of employees would be concerned if their company bought in remote activity and productivity monitoring, with over a third (36%) saying they’d be likely to resign if so. Almost three-quarters (72%) were concerned about the use of video tracking, 61% with attention tracking apps, 60% were concerned about keyboard tracking apps, and over half (52%) if their employer were to monitor time spent on certain apps or websites.

Related: 1 in 5 workers admit to SLEEPING on the job when working from home

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