,Watson works from home in her living room in Nunhead, south East London. Think-tank Demos found that 65% of Britain's working population was forced to switch to either working from home or pause their job. — AFP
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NUNHEAD, United Kingdom: Consultant Rachel Watson enjoys being based at her home that looks onto the London skyline but misses the office vibe. She will soon get the best of both worlds as Britain’s Covid lockdown eases.
UK businesses are planning for a hybrid or flexible workplace, splitting time between home and offices when the latest restrictions are finally relaxed in June.
Watson worked mostly in London’s City finance district, for corporate procurement specialists Proxima, until the Covid-19 pandemic erupted one year ago and turned the area into a ghost town.
The 34-year-old Scot now works for Proxima from the apartment she shares with pet beagle Kobe in the south London suburb of Nunhead, six miles (9.6 kilometres) from the office, with a window view of London’s Shard skyscraper.
“I do enjoy working from home in terms of having more of a work-life balance – being able to spend more time in my community, being able to switch off work and be in your home – and I don’t miss the commuting so much,” she told AFP from her living room desk.
“But I do really enjoy the office and being surrounded by clients and having a real separation between where work is and where home is.”
She added: “I miss the social side... There’s always been a lot going on. We had a really good office vibe before all of this.”
Surveys indicate that a hybrid or flexible working week, divided between home and office, will be popular among huge numbers of workers.
Think-tank Demos found that 65% of Britain’s working population was forced to switch to either working from home or pause their job.
In an update after interviewing 20,000 adults in December, Demos added that 79% of people working from home wanted to continue doing so after the lockdown is lifted, either on a part-time or permanent basis.
As Britain’s vaccination drive quickens, many companies are making preparations to blend home and office working hours with the aim of boosting staff health, morale and productivity.
Corporate giants including banking groups HSBC and Nationwide banks, accountants PwC and British Airways are among those eyeing a hybrid approach for office staff.
HSBC on Wednesday offered more than 1,200 UK-based call centre employees the chance to work from home permanently.
“A hybrid approach to working allows for a better work-life balance,” Watson said.
Proxima in September rolled out a flexible policy that allows employees to choose how and where they work going forward.
Most office staff followed government advice to work from home during lockdown, although many have struggled in cramped living conditions.