Over half of professionals would start new job search if they had to work more days in-office

53% of UK professionals would start looking for a new job if their employer told them they’d have to work more days in the office.

With over two-fifths (46%) stating costs associated with returning to the office as a key deterrent. The findings are from a recent poll of 2,000 UK professionals conducted by specialist international recruitment company Robert Walters.

This comes as a recent survey by KPMG found that 63% of UK CEOs predict a full return-to-office by 2026. Despite this – according to the Robert Walters 2024 salary survey, hybrid-working remains in the top three most desired benefits across every professional field. Chris Eldridge, CEO of Robert Walters UK, commented:

“The pandemic not only opened the door to hybrid-working but made it a mainstay in many companies. It also proved that there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to ways of working and keeping productivity levels up across a workforce.

Leaders attempting to jump the gun and implement a full return-to-office are quickly going to run into trouble – as it’s clear that many professionals won’t readily give up the flexible working routines that they’ve spent the last 3-4 years getting comfortable with.”

Our research shows that gone are the days where employers competed for talent on salary alone – so having a clearly defined hybrid working model will be a key ‘benefit’ to leverage for candidate attraction and retention this year, particularly where hiring budgets remain stringent.”

What’s more, 45% of professionals stated that ‘changes to hybrid-working’ will have the biggest impact on workplaces this year – before changes to rewards & benefits schemes (20%), advancements in generative AI (19%) and effective leadership (16%).

The main reasons for professionals not wanting to spend more days in office were associated costs (46%), disruption to their work-life balance (28%), long commutes (16%) and too many distractions at work (10%). Chris said:

“With inflation still high and ongoing concerns over the cost of living, spending money on the commute to work, buying lunch amongst other expenses presents yet another key obstacle for professionals returning to the office.”

However, when it comes to what is drawing professionals back to the office – over a third (36%) stated more days in the office helped with their weekly routine. Other advantages were brainstorming with colleagues (26%), in-person meetings (24%) and more facetime with senior figures (14%).

The Robert Walters poll also found that 73% of company leaders said they wouldn’t issue a full return-to-office this year, even if it didn’t impact retention. Chris added:

 “There is definitely a balance to strike with flexible working. If more days in office are what companies want – the onus is on senior leadership teams to make the office the heart of their work community and inform professionals of what can be gained by returning.”

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