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The End Of Flexible Working? Over Half Of UK Employees Are Forced Back To The Office Full-Time As The Job Market Cools

London, UK – 14 February, 2023: The era of flexible working appears to be coming to an end. As the job market cools and workers look for stability in the midst of a recession, employers are beginning to clawback benefits, most notably on flexible and hybrid working, with 58% of UK workers returning to their offices to work full time.

According to new data with over 2,500 employees, who were surveyed for the seventh edition of the Talent Index from Talent Lifecycle Management platform Beamery, 37% of the workforce is now being mandated to work in the office every day, in a sign that the workplace trends established during the COVID-19 pandemic might be waning.

The data reveals that half of workers have left a company in the past only to regret it later, which, added to a looming recession and worsening cost of living crisis, might be encouraging workers to stay put with their current employer regardless of a lack of flexible working policies. According to data from the ONS, job vacancies fell for several consecutive quarters to reach 1.19 million in the three months to November, suggesting a cooling of the jobs market, also making workers less likely to take a risk and change jobs.

Over a third (34%) of UK employees said that they were feeling pressure from their employer to come into the office more often, and that their employer wanted them to come into the office more days per week, while 16% revealed that they were mandated to work in the office on specified days. This is against a backdrop of flexible working still being a priority for employees - the majority of workers (53%) say work/life balance matters to them the most in a new job, and 38% say flexible working is important to them.

Most companies borrowed substantially before and during the pandemic in a low rate environment, but now interest rates are rising and loans will become harder for businesses to pay back. This shift in environment is relevant for both employees and employers: employees had wider concerns about the health of their employer organisations and the impact of inflation, with 23% worried that the economic climate might mean clients/consumers might not have as much budget or money to work or spend with them.

Employees also revealed their fears for the impact of the wider economic landscape on their workplace – with many worrying about cuts to departmentmental budgets (23%), less recruitment (18%) and lower annual revenues (19%) in the future. Workplace concerns were causing wider issues, even causing employees to explore leaving: poor management was cited as a reason why they were looking to leave a job (28%), followed by disorganised processes at their existing company (24%) and limited work benefits or perks (20%).

More promisingly, 73% of UK employees revealed that they feel that their current workplace had plans in place to help them learn new skills – with 58% of employees keen to grow their skill set in their existing workplace. Women were more likely to want to learn something new in order to advance their skillset (44%), compared to 38% of men.

The research conducted for Beamery surveyed 2,500 respondents from the UK, all of whom were office workers. Beamery’s Talent Lifecycle Management platform empowers companies to understand the skills and capabilities they have, build more agile workforce plans, and attract, retain, up-skill and redeploy their workforce.

Abakar Saidov, co-founder and CEO at Beamery, said: “Almost three years after the pandemic saw us all change our working habits, we are starting to see signs that the workplace might be evolving again. While employers might be keen to see their teams back in the office, to retain their talent, it is vital that they listen to what works for their teams. We know flexibility, training and development are highly valued in the new era of working, and it would be unwise for employers to move away from them completely in 2023.”

Download the full Beamery Talent Index Seventh Edition here.