Hybrid working is now a permanent feature of most workplaces and it is offered to all employees, most of whom attend the office no more than 50% of the time. This is according to Totum’s fourth survey of professional service firms and their plans/policies in regard to returning to the office: ‘Returning to the office: The agile workplace’. 

Our ‘return to the office’ survey has been conducted in six-month intervals since March 2021. Each time, we have asked firms the same questions to more easily compare results and observe changing sentiments/trends. But over time we have also added a few additional questions to reflect the shifting market over the past 6 and 12 months.

Highlights of our findings

  • 5% of respondents are still uncertain as to the future of their hybrid working policy, 61% now have a hybrid policy that represents a permanent change up from 49% in March this year while the rest are either still testing an approach that is not yet settled (34%).
  • Most firms seem to favour a 40% office / 60% home working pattern (or three days at home, two in the office) while a slightly smaller number favour the other way – a 60/40 balance or three days in the office and two at home.
  • When asked where people will be allowed to work, the most popular option remains ‘Able to commute into the office if needed at short notice’ putting the office firmly centre-stage. However, the figures for this option have dropped from 77% in September 2021 to 68% now.
  • When the survey asked firms for their average weekly office occupancy over four weeks (not including August), most respondents selected the 26-50% bracket – 67% of respondents in September 2022, compared to 69% in March (see figure nine). For sure, more are now filling the 51-75% office occupancy bracket – 26% compared to just 11% in March, and only 7% now have just 0-25% occupancy rates.
  • 82% are encouraging office attendance via team/anchor days, 80% are hosting team social activities and 66% are running firm-wide social events – numbers that if anything have risen since March 2022.
  • Most respondent firms (75%) have not introduced a policy/framework to discount an employee’s salary if they are moving to a lower-cost location. But 20% are still thinking about it in September 2022, and a small number (5%) have already done so. 
  • 61% of respondent firms do not discount salaries for employees that work 100% remotely but 27% are thinking about doing this and 12% already do so.

Overall, these findings reflect the conversations we are having with firms on a daily basis. As hybrid working models have become standard practice across most firms, they have brought with them many advantages but firms currently running offices with only 50% attendance at best will be grappling with difficult decisions: how to rethink office space and how teams can be best brought together for the sustained benefit of all, while prioritising productivity, cost-efficiency and employee wellbeing. None of this is easy but the firms that can find the right balance will reap the rewards of a landscape that has already changed – and is waiting for the most progressive firms to seize its potential.

To find out more, and to read our full analysis, download the pdf here. 

To find out more about Totum research, contact Sarah Broad at [email protected]