Hybrid Work Commission launches report to help the UK capitalise on the benefits of hybrid working across the country
The pandemic accelerated trends towards digital adoption and tech-enabled remote and hybrid working, shifting entire workplaces and office buildings to home-working on either a full-time or hybrid basis.
Hybrid and remote work can benefit employees, employers and the UK economy by improving work-life balance, productivity, diversity and inclusion, and reducing emissions and costs. But it also poses some challenges and inequalities, such as perception gaps and sectoral differences.
The Hybrid Work Commission was established to explore the rise of hybrid working in this context and make recommendations to the UK government to harness the benefits for people and communities across the country.
The Commission was led by colleagues from techUK members Zoom and Vodafone, alongside representatives from the CIPD, Indeed, Liverpool John Moores University, The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and Prospect Union.
In their new report produced by Public First, the Commission set out their findings. The report analyses existing research, business and consumer polling, and economic modelling to chart the hybrid working landscape and make a number of recommendations to maximise the potential of hybrid working.
You can read the full report by clicking the button, or read our summary of the key findings below.
It's imperative to harness the full potential of hybrid work for everyone, as it holds the key to fostering more inclusive and accessible workplaces. While many employers have already embraced this model, it is evident that government intervention is necessary to provide comprehensive guidelines and support to enable all businesses to unlock the advantages of hybrid and remote work.
Hybrid work is a key recruitment and retention tool
According to the HWC report, hybrid work is proving an invaluable tool in helping businesses recruit and retain talent in the context of a long-standing skills gap. Hybrid workers value the positive impacts of such work for their work-life balance and wellbeing, and the report estimates that hybrid working is worth £13.5bn to UK hybrid employees annually.
The research found that a considerable majority of employers offering hybrid work said it helped with hiring and retention, with businesses saving between £6.9bn and £10.3bn annually across the UK due to improved retention from hybrid working through recruitment costs alone.
Hybrid and remote work can boost workforce inclusion
The report notes businesses found that hybrid and remote work makes it easier for them to hire from a wider range of backgrounds. A majority of businesses said it helps them hire more parents and carers and those from different regions of the country, whilst a significant minority said it increased their ability to hire people with disabilities.
Hybrid and remote work can support productivity and local economies
A growth in hybrid and remote work can boost worker productivity. The HWC report found that 46% of hybrid workers felt they were more productive at home, compared to only 18% who did not engage in hybrid work. For remote only workers, 53% felt they were more productive at home compared to 18% of those working in-office only.
Two thirds of business owners felt working from home either improved productivity or did not impact it, with a clear majority of business owners with remote or hybrid teams viewing productivity as either increased or not affected when working remotely. For businesses primarily operating at their place of work, the picture is more mixed; for those primarily working in office 58% felt that working remotely improved or did not impact productivity, compared to 51% of businesses working primarily in shops and 52% in warehouses.
Those working in local businesses such as shops may see benefits from increasing hybrid and remote work across the economy in other ways. A growth in this work is identified in the report as correlating with a rise of workers carrying out day-to-day activities closer to home, increasing footfall for local highstreets and shops.
More businesses want to offer tech-enabled flexible work
The adoption of hybrid work models varies by sectors, with a majority of workers in sectors such as manufacturing reporting having never worked from home. Indeed, 70% of workers say the reason they don’t participate in hybrid work is because their job cannot be performed from home.
However, the report notes that co-working hubs with high levels of security, fast broadband connectivity or greater ability to set and shape shift patterns would all be welcomed by these workers. And a majority of employers in sectors such as manufacturing, construction and education (where there are lower rates of hybrid working) said they would consider giving their employees more flexibility over working hours.
The data shows that access to good digital infrastructure is key, with 44% of businesses saying they would be more likely to allow home working if there was faster broadband access at their employees’ homes and 41% if there was more reliable broadband.
Hybrid and remote work raises challenges for some groups
The HWC report finds that whilst hybrid workers saw the benefits for their work-life balance and only 4% said it had a negative impact, this number rises to 8% among 18–24-year-olds who were also more likely to report that they felt disconnected from their teams. According to the research, younger people were more likely to recognise greater opportunities to learn new skills in the office than older colleagues.
Similarly, whilst a majority of those with children under 18 reported that hybrid work helped them juggle parental responsibilities more easily, mothers were more likely to report that hybrid work had made this more difficult. A majority of women said that they were expected to spend more time caring for their children, compared to only 37% of men who reported the same.
Capitalising on hybrid and remote work requires action from businesses and government
The Commission highlights that whilst many organisations have now adopted remote and hybrid working models, action is required by government to work alongside businesses and employees to put the right guidance and support in place to deliver on the benefits for people and communities across the country. They recommend:
- Employers should seek to create moments for purposeful interaction, connection and collaboration by ensuring that employees have a reason to be in their office if they are so required.
- The Government, working with relevant bodies, should develop guidelines to support businesses to measure productivity in a hybrid and remote working environment.
- Employers should offer line managers and those with management responsibilities training on hybrid and remote work to help them support their teams with hybrid working.
- Include hybrid and remote working provisions as a part of Good Work Charters.
- The Government should consider reviewing parental leave policies and the impact this may have on bolstering gender divisions in the workplace.
- In consultation with businesses, the Government should introduce a National Remote and Hybrid Work Strategy to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the UK workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits.
- The National Infrastructure Commission should actively consider the rise of hybrid and remote working in their second National Infrastructure Assessment due to be published later in 2023.
Read the full report and recommendations by clicking here.
Future of Work
The future of work is changing. Technology is powering a growth in flexible work across the economy, whilst emerging technologies such as robotics and AI are set to become common place. techUK believes the UK must consider the implications of digital transformation in the world of work now, equipping people and businesses across the country with the skills and conditions needed to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the 4IR.
Jake has been the Policy Manager for Skills and Future of Work since May 2022, supporting techUK's work to empower the UK to skill, attract and retain the brightest global talent, and prepare for the digital transformations of the future workplace.
Previously, Jake was the Programme Assistant for Policy. He joined techUK in March 2019 and has also worked across the EU Exit, International Trade, and Cloud, Data Analytics and AI programmes.
He also holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Sussex, as well as a BA(Hons) in International Politics from Aberystwyth University. During his time at Aberyswyth University, he won the International Politics Dissertation Prize.