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“Presenteeism is dead” say HR and recruitment experts in response to ONS report

Man working

Following the ONS report published this morning, Is hybrid working here to stay?, which reveals more than 8 in 10 workers who had to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic said they planned to hybrid work, HR and recruitment experts share their thoughts:

Sarah Loates of Derby-based Loates HR Consultancy: “This is a rhetorical question. Hybrid working is absolutely here to stay. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s passive-aggressive observations belong in the 19th Century. Presenteeism is dead, productivity should be the focus.”

Julia Kermode, founder at Nantwich-based IWork: “It’s about time all the out-of-touch dinosaurs woke up and smelt the coffee. Hybrid working is here and it’s here to stay. For many people hybrid working is not a luxury, but actually necessary for them to be able to work. Think people with disabilities who can’t travel into an office easily, people juggling caring responsibilities, people juggling multiple jobs to create an income. No-one wants to be out of work and hybrid working gives people that opportunity who otherwise might not be able to. It is definitely not about faffing around and eating cheese as suggested by the Prime Minister.”

Louise Burns, director of Tyne and Wear-based Nineteen Recruitment: “For more and more employees and job seekers, hybrid working isn’t a ‘want’, it’s a demand. We’re seeing more and more candidates come to us with the specific request that they are only interested in being considered for work from home jobs or, at the very least, jobs that offer a hybrid arrangement. Things were moving this way anyway given new technologies, but the Covid-19 pandemic brought the future forward.”

Sandra Wilson, director of Ipswich-based recruitment and HR firm, Cottrell Moore: “Hybrid working has been around for many years in lots of roles and I’m sure it will remain for those continuing to hit their organisations’ expectations. For many companies, though, it just isn’t viable. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 18 months. We have an economy that is walking a tight rope so employees may no longer be able to demand anything. I think most, in the not too distant future, will simply be grateful to have a job sadly.”

Karen Watkins, founder of Somerset-based Rowan Consulting: “Hybrid working is definitely here to stay. The focus now needs to be on how companies manage the dynamic between “those who can, and those who can’t”. Remember there are millions of people in sectors such as manufacturing and engineering that can’t work from home, and we cannot and should not forget these individuals. The role of management is to ensure equality and equity for these employees as well, as if not, engagement and productivity levels will continue to suffer as a result of a “them and us” culture.”

Kieran Boyle, MD of Gloucester-based CKB Recruitment: “Hybrid working is 1000% here to stay. It’s one of the main things candidates are looking for when they move jobs, and given the candidate-starved UK jobs market, employers have had to accept it if they want to continue to attract the best talent. We don’t envisage this changing now as a large number of our clients now have this model set it stone. It seems most people now want a mix of home and office working, and this is unlikely to change.”

Andrew Deighton, owner of Derby-based AWD Development Solutions: “Hybrid working is definitely here to stay. Wherever they can, most of my clients are running with a hybrid model. One of them, which is a software business, told me recently that they can’t attract any senior software developers unless they offer hybrid and flexible working. We need to accept this is the way forward and businesses need to think about the longer term implications. Are there issues around health and safety for people without access to a home office setup? What about IT and data security? How do we build relationships between employees who rarely see each other face to face? How do we bring in and train new talent such as apprentices and graduates if there’s no one in the office for them to learn from? And how do we develop managers’ skills so they focus on the outputs, not the time spent working on them, and trust their employees to work in this way?”

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