UK managers least concerned about maintaining physical office space compared to global counterparts

New research reveals that globally, managers are still reluctant to let go of the physical office, despite clear indications that remote and hybrid working are being embraced by the vast majority of companies. UK managers, however, remain least dependent on on-site working, compared to global counterparts. Sixty three percent of UK managers have a preference for keeping some form of physical office space compared to 76% of US managers, 72% of German managers and 66% of Canadian managers.

The report, ‘How managers are adapting to the future of work from anywhere’ is from Omnipresent, a SaaS-based global employment services company, and PerchPeek, the digital relocation specialists. It includes responses from 1,000 managers globally (including 200 UK managers) on the benefits and challenges of remote working from anywhere.

The survey shows that 46% of UK managers feel that the physical workspace is important for employees to stay productive, nearly 4 in 10 (38%) feel that employees need the space to collaborate and connect, while over a third (35%) believe it is important for employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

In contrast, in the US, Canada and Australia, the top reason the physical office space remains important is so that employees can collaborate to complete their work. This is cited by 69% of US, 54% of Canadian and 53% of Australian managers.

In spite of this, hybrid and remote working are the current reality for the majority of respondents. In the UK, 81% are either using remote or hybrid models and another 7% intend to adopt a remote or hybrid model in the future. While fears over communication and productivity with hybrid and remote work are clear, companies are still addressing the challenges.

Kate Gray, Head of People at Omnipresent, states:

“While most organisations intend to remain fully remote or incorporate a hybrid model, there are still question marks about how this is actually possible. Since we’re still in a transition period, managers’ concerns are influential and can shape the future of an organisation. Addressing these issues is essential – for both the employer and the employee.

“Importantly, when creating a new strategy, HR and managers must start fresh without comparing to old onsite strategies that are likely no longer relevant in today’s business environment. Don’t try to apply old habits and practices to new models as they will not work as well and can cause frustration or setbacks in the long run.”

Despite reluctance to leave physical office spaces behind, many managers are still finding key benefits for their people when it comes to remote and hybrid working.

According to the study, four in 10 UK managers feel their people have a better work-life balance as a result of remote and hybrid work, 35% feel communication works well in these conditions, more than a third (34%) feel employees are equally or more engaged and 32% state they have access to a broader talent pool when hiring remotely. As well as this, over a quarter (28%) state that productivity is the same or better than in previous years.

Oliver Markham, Co-founder, PerchPeek, adds:

“Interestingly, ‘our studies show that improved communication and productivity’ are cited as a key benefit of both remote or hybrid working, as well as on-site working, suggesting a clear divide over this issue. In particular, when working remotely, managers and company executives are most worried that working asynchronously will lead to poor communication and productivity slumps, with 58% of respondents stating that working across time zones is a significant challenge.

“Realistically, working from anywhere and remote work isn’t for every person, nor every company. But the same goes for working on-site. We’re seeing increasing numbers of companies working nimbly, and offering employees the option to work in a way that best suits them while also ensuring it works for the business. More and more companies are getting to grips with the best ways to interact, making their work style efficient for their business needs and growth.”