UK businesses set to downsize or close offices completely

More than a quarter (26%) of UK businesses are set to either close, downsize or consolidate their offices in the coming months.

As companies plan to move to hybrid working models post-pandemic, office spaces won’t be used as they once were.  

More than half (53%) of businesses plan to offer more flexible or remote working policies, while 30% expect employees in the office between one and three days per week, according to new research by HR tech firm Applaud.

Yet only 14% of employers said they were not expecting staff to return to the office at all post-pandemic.

Nicky Hoyland, CEO of employee experience platform Huler, said when implemented correctly, hybrid working provides employees with increased flexibility and can lead to a happier, healthier workforce.

She told HR magazine: “However, if organisations do not take a human-first approach to hybrid working, it will cause more employee isolation, anxiety and burn out.

“To prevent this, businesses know they must balance the new flexibility with the need to provide positive experiences for all, both those in an office and at home.”

More than a third (35%) of firms said they plan on developing an employee engagement role distinct from traditional HR to support staff engagement and improve employee experience remotely. 

Hoyland advised HR to adopt an approach that puts employees first and over-communicate this to teams.

She said: “Be honest and open about the challenges that may occur when we’re in a half-in, half-at home working world.

“Put in place clear guides and practices that include everything from how to run a meeting with half the people in the room and half on Zoom, to how to use various tech and collaboration or communication apps to make your day smoother.”

Hoyland said we need to enable and empower teams to unleash the full potential of their people.

“If done right, hybrid working can save time, make working efficiently easier, and take a people-first approach to this new different.

“Allowing employees to incorporate their everyday lives into their working day, and moving away from a traditional model of separating work and home life, in a healthy way for all, will be key to making hybrid working successful moving forward.”

What HR needs to know about hybrid working: 

Hybrid working to be used by biggest UK employers

How to make hybrid working ‘work’

Hybrid working plans hindered by poor tech