Half of workers would consider changing roles if hybrid working was withdrawn, poll finds

Despite ongoing issues with remote onboarding, two in five HR professionals say not offering flexibility would make recruitment difficult in the long term

More than half of workers who currently have access to hybrid working would leave their jobs if it was taken away, a poll has found.

The YouGov survey of 2,046 UK workers, commissioned by Microsoft UK, found that 51 per cent of respondents who had the choice to mix remote and office working would consider leaving their company if this flexibility was removed.

The same research also found that half (53 per cent) of UK workers who started a new role since March 2020 onboarded remotely, and that as a consequence, a similar proportion (48 per cent) found it harder to feel part of the company culture.

Of these new starters – who made up 36 per cent of the total polled – 42 per cent said forming new workplace relationships was a challenge to onboarding, while 21 per cent said the same about immersing into the company culture.

This was a sentiment echoed by HR professionals. Of 504 HR decision makers polled, 36 per cent agreed that remote onboarding made it harder to provide effective, role-specific training.

The poll also highlighted a number of other difficulties HR professionals had with hybrid working. Nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) reported an inability to retain new talent; 25 per cent cited a negative impact on productivity; while a similar proportion (24 per cent) said there was a negative impact on wellbeing.

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Despite these challenges, 38 per cent of HR professionals said not having a hybrid model would make it harder to recruit top talent in the long term.

Nick Hedderman, director of the Modern Work Business Group at Microsoft UK, said the pandemic had proven employers are able to trust their employees to work remotely. “They now have an opportunity to reshape work around individual roles, preferences and even personal lives,” he said.

The findings come at a time when official figures show that job-to-job moves are at an all time high: a trend that the Office for National Statistics said was largely driven by resignations rather than dismissals.

At the time, Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, urged employers to focus on retaining their existing workforce. “The figures show a surge in job-to-job moves driven by employees taking advantage of the tight ‘jobseeker-friendly’ labour market, and perhaps also people rethinking their career priorities after the pandemic,” he said.

“In response, employers should focus on improving how they develop and retain their existing workforce to prevent or reduce skill and labour shortages,” said Davies.