This week, Google told its workforce it expects a fifth of them to be working permanently from home in future. The tech giant is the latest company to unveil what it calls a ‘hybrid model’ for post-pandemic life, with most staff working a mix of days in the home and in the office.
In the UK many firms are contemplating similar moves now that businesses are reopening and getting back to some level of normality.
In fact, 43 out of the UK's 50 biggest office based businesses say that going forward they expect to operate the hybrid working model – a mix of working from home and coming into the office.
So hybrid working looks set to become the future for UK employees, which will be welcomed by millions of workers who've seen the benefits of being able to work from home during the pandemic. Some say they are more production with less distractions when they are working from home, and for working parents, the daily juggle of childcare and career is more bearable with flexibility. It's easier to manage the home, the kids and the career when you take out the daily commute.
So how long will this hybrid model of working last, will it be permanent?
In Australia, with the pandemic relatively under control, some offices have been back at work for nearly a year. And while many firms initially allowed staff to work partly from home, the numbers going into the office have been creeping back up, so much so that traffic in Australia’s major cities is fast returning to pre-Covid levels - and some roads are even busier than before. Offices in other places that have controlled the pandemic, like New Zealand and Taiwan, have also been open for months, and at most large firms, in-person work remains voluntary, rather than mandated at the moment.
But there are signs that working from home may not be possible forever. A BCG report in Australia found that 63% of employees across a range of companies wanted to continue some form of remote working, but only 40% of employers believed they would operate the hybrid model in the future.