London businesses appear to be keen but cautious when it comes to getting employees back into the office, according to new research from private hire firm Addison Lee.
With government advice to work from home expected to relax next month, the study found concerns around the safety of employees to be driving a flexible approach for returning to the workplace for most businesses.
The research does however suggest that London businesses are keen to tap into the benefits that being back in the office could deliver, with 71% saying that bringing people back to the office will drive better collaboration. It also found that 59% of London businesses are looking forward to improvements in staff wellbeing, and 49% believe that a return to the workplace will improve company culture.
However, after over a year spent working from home, employee safety remains a point of anxiety for businesses. 71% are concerned about safe transportation for their employees to and from work.
These concerns are not unfounded. Addison Lee’s recent ‘ALmost There’ research revealed that over half of Londoners would be more comfortable going back to the workplace if they didn’t have to use public transport, and nearly two thirds would feel more comfortable going back to the workplace if they were able to travel in at flexible times to avoid rush hour.
And the concerns appear to be resulting in London businesses taking a dynamic approach to the return, with half expecting to bring their staff back into the workplace by 30 June. Promisingly for London’s economy, only a tenth of businesses surveyed anticipate waiting to bring staff back, on a more regular basis, until the final quarter of 2021.
In addition to this, the majority (71%) of London businesses are considering offering employees greater flexibility around travel times and working hours. While 73% also plan to help incentivise staff back into the workplace by offering a dynamic solution for working between the office and home.
Liam Griffin, CEO of Addison Lee, said: “Many businesses are keen to get back into the workplace, to give employees the opportunity to see one another and enjoy working together again. But our research shows that safety remains employers’ number one concern when planning the return to the office.
"Safety and hygiene have been at the core of our business during the pandemic. Our range of safety measures, implemented for both passengers and drivers, include safety screens across our entire fleet, face coverings for drivers and Electrostatic cleaning spray in our vehicles. As London gets back on its feet and back into the office, we can offer employers a flexible and safe transport solution.”