This week’s guest blog is from Bea Wilkinson; a financial services industry intern working out of the London office (sort of!). She provides her perspective on the current WFH dynamic as a new entrant to the workforce and a look ahead to what her generation can expect for the future of employment.
‘Working From Home’- The Kitchen Table perspective
WFH, the three-letter anagram that evokes relief in some and fear in others. This profound cultural shift to ‘hybrid’ working has altered the corporate world beyond recognition; where the strict 5 day a week in-office schedule has quickly become a conversation of ‘when are you next in?’. There will be a whole host of grads and placement students like myself that know no different. From personal exercise, the anecdotes of my London colleagues and the news headlines , there is a noticeable decrease in the amount of individuals commuting in and out of the Capital on a weekly basis and especially during these colder darker winter months!
It is a widely shared view that this full 5-day-a-week return to office is a long way off or even a diminishing possibility altogether. Although predicting the future of work is near enough impossible, there are a few factors that will catalyse the increasingly unlikely prospect.
Any kind of return, similar to pre-pandemic patterns, will only be made possible if management led. The undeniable reality however is that this flexibility is ideal for those more senior in business structures with expansive professional obligations, family responsibilities and social commitments. Many assume that until there is a perceived harm to productivity, we will continue enjoying this said flexibility. Perhaps this is a window of opportunity for our measure of productivity to reflect employee satisfaction alongside financial growth.
A major catalyst for a return to office will be a top-down initiative to support the property market, especially in city centres. We have already seen a reduced demand for commercial property as more companies opt for temporary/part-time office space as hybrid working patterns become more established. The adverse impacts this has had on the housing market in and around cities is already substantial. Despite this, Birmingham is still on the upward trajectory when it comes to property with major investments in projects like the MEPC’s development of One Centenary Way which is due to be completed at the tail-end of this year. The Savills report indicates that Birmingham is amongst those few cities that will lead the post-pandemic property recovery. The city was ranked fourth most successful in encouraging travel withing the city to return to pre-pandemic levels.
With the success of the trial of the 4-day working week at Atom Bank, who knows what the future of work will look like. Whatever the case, it looks like Birmingham will remain a strong leader and we at OWB are proud to be part of such a pioneering city.