28 May 2024
by Drew Smith

Accelerating the benefits of hybrid work – why we must continue to lean into workplace flexibility

The world of work has transformed in recent years, with organisations and people enjoying far more choice over where, how, and when they work. This shift had been gradually happening before the pandemic, but Covid-19 prompted a massive acceleration of hybrid working, with employers and employees experiencing first-hand the benefits for themselves and their businesses. Fast forward to today, and hybrid working is the ‘new normal’, with employer polls consistently showing that a plurality of workers say they would change jobs if they were required to work from an office every day.

Hybrid working offers huge benefits to not only individuals, but also to the economy. Surveys have consistently found that hybrid workers feel they can be more productive working remotely, and analysis by Ricoh found that just a 4% increase in productivity created by hybrid working could generate up to £33.4bn in additional economic output in the UK.[1] With 31% of leaders and 52% of hybrid workers reporting increased productivity as a benefit to their organisation, we can clearly see the productivity gains that hybrid work can create.[2]

As well as helping to solve the UK’s productivity puzzle, hybrid working can have a significant impact on who businesses are able to recruit and retain, notably women. In 2023, the Hybrid Work Commission — which included businesses like Zoom, Vodafone, and Indeed, alongside academics, the trade union Prospect, and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership — was established to examine and make recommendations to the UK Government on steps it can take to further drive up hybrid and remote working in ways that benefit people and the economy.

The Commission found that as hybrid working became more prevalent between 2020 and 2023, this had helped push female workplace participation above pre-pandemic levels, and that sectors which have seen the biggest increase in hours worked by women were closely correlated with those most likely to have adopted hybrid working.[3] With women still more likely than men to have caring responsibilities, this suggests that the availability of hybrid opportunities correlates with the number of women in full-time employment, particularly in professional careers — resulting in better opportunities for personal progression, while boosting the UK’s overall workforce participation. Hybrid working has also made it easier for organisations to recruit and retain a diverse and talented workforce: the Hybrid Work Commission found that 51% of businesses polled were better able to recruit people from different regions of the country, while 42% said they had found it easier to hire disabled people since adopting hybrid.

Today’s more flexible approach to work continues to unlock new talent pools for employers and create more opportunities for individuals than ever before. Alongside significant improvements to work-life balance, it’s no surprise that 69% of employees responding to a March 2024 survey by HR publication People Management said they would start searching for a new job if they were forced to spend more time in the office.[4] Flexibility in the workplace is fast becoming one of the —  if not the most —  important factors that people look at in a new role, with almost two thirds of employees saying they’d be willing to accept less pay for a better work-life balance.

Whoever forms the next government, understanding how expectations around work have changed, and that voters want to see more not less flexible opportunities, will be crucial.  Most employers have worked this out by themselves, and legislation promoting flexible working recently made its way through Parliament with cross-party support, but there’s much more the next Parliament can do to build confidence in and normalise hybrid working. With significant benefits to employers and employees, as well as the wider economy, our next generation of politicians should look to expand hybrid working right across the economy, helping improve wellbeing and deliver Britain’s workforce of the future.


[1]  Ricoh, Businesses overlook €39 billion hybrid work boost to economy, May 2023 (link).

[2]  Gallup, The future of the office has arrived: it’s hybrid, October 2023 (link).

[3]  Public First, Hybrid Work Commission, September 2023 (link).

[4]  People Management, Most workers would look for new jobs if told to increase office attendance, March 2024 (link).



Drew Smith

Drew Smith

Government Relations Manager, UK & Ireland, Zoom Video Communications