Majority of workers plan a return to the office, but home working here to stay

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Majority of workers plan a return to the office, but home working here to stay

05 Oct 2020

• Office workers highlight importance of the office for learning and networks
• Home working poses problems for young workers

New independent polling commissioned by the British Council for Offices (BCO), suggests that, once Government measures allow, Britain is set to move to a ‘mixed’ working style, with time in the office balanced with time at home.  

The survey, which polled over 2,000 office workers nationwide, took place prior to new Government measures and found an appetite to get back to the office.

Asked about how they planned to work for the next six months, almost half of office workers (46%) intended to split their work between home and the office, while 30% were set for a full, five-day-a-week return to the office. Office sceptics appear to have been silenced, though, as only 15% of respondents planned to only work from home.

These plans may be put on hold for now, given new Government guidance, but the survey suggests a new approach to how we intend to work in the medium-to-long term.

What’s more, our new hybrid habits span hierarchies. At the top end, 62% of C-suite respondents planned to split their time between the home and the office, while 58% of trainees aimed to do the same.

Potentially uninspired creatives were particularly keen to return to the office. Only 7% of marketeers planned to work from home full time over the coming two quarters, making them the least keen profession to stay home, with 62% of this group stating they enjoy the creative exchanges that occur in the office.

The survey also found that most office workers did return to their office in August, with 64% having spent some time in the office since August 1st, and almost a quarter (24%) having worked a full week back at their desk.

Home working poses problems for young workers

Respondents also highlighted the importance of the office to career development, with 71% stating that the office is important for developing networks and learning. Meanwhile, 65% said their career has been helped by relationships forged in the office and 71% agreed the office is important for forming connections with colleagues.    

As a new generation of graduates enters the working world, this suggests remote working may cause difficulties for young employees, who are yet to form networks and arguably gain most from seeing how their colleagues work.

Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the British Council for Offices, said:

“Our way of working is changing, and a new, mixed working approach is becoming popular. This does not mean the end of the office. The office is valuable for career development, which relies on forming networks and the informal lessons that come from watching senior colleagues operate. This is particularly true for young people, who would suffer if working from home ever became totally predominant.

“The coming months and years are an opportunity to reimagine the office and its purpose. It is time for Britain return to the office, but doing so doesn’t mean a return to how we used to work. Let’s embrace the change.”

Matt Flood, Head of Occupier Markets at Landsec, said:

“The pandemic has triggered a huge acceleration in the trends which were already underway such as a greater emphasis on flexibility, wellbeing and sustainability. The future of work will be around choice where the office forms part of a wider ecosystem of physical and digital spaces

“This research, which supports our own customer insight, shows that the role of the office will evolve to be focused on driving collaboration, learning and innovation and so the spaces and products we design need to support these tasks whilst offering the opportunity for businesses to express their brand and culture.”

The polling was conducted by Toluna, an independent market research agency, and took place between 3rd – 7th September 2020.



Sam Barnett: 07768 866572,

Imogen Sackey: 07850 922332,

About the BCO

The British Council for Offices (BCO) is the UK’s leading member organisation representing the interests of all those who occupy, design, build, own or manage offices in the UK. This year marks 30 years of the BCO providing thought leadership and best practice in all issues related to the creation and use of office space – through its research, awards, conference and events programmes. You can learn more about the BCO at

About the survey

The survey results are based on a sample of 2000 office workers in the UK and therefore are not a reflection of the whole population. It is a snapshot of the market as of September 2020 and therefore subject to change.  The publication is for general information only and employers must seek to adhere with the government guidelines and rules as well as consulting with their own employees about their strategy for return to work and their staff’s work preferences.

The published survey is for general information only and does not seek to give advice or be an exclusive statement of practice. Specific advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified professional for individual cases. The BCO shall not in any circumstances have any liability whatsoever to any person for any loss or damage ( including without limit for loss of profit, business revenues, loss of anticipated savings or for any increased costs sustained or any special indirect or consequential damage of any nature whatsoever) arising in any way as a result of reliance on this publication whether directly or indirectly or any error or defect in this publication.


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