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Businesses Making Flexibility Permanent

LSCA’s Angus Farr discusses flexible working when returning to the office.

August 2021

Angus FarrChartered Accountants working in business are facing a range of working patterns as we emerge from COVID – some very different to what we’d been used to.

A number of businesses are making flexibility permanent. Asda’s mantra for back-office staff is now ‘work where it works’. Others are going the other way. Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon famously described working from home as “an aberration” and the bank is certainly keen to return everyone to offices.

For many, myself included, not much has changed. I’d spent a fair amount of time working from home before the pandemic. Indeed, one small marketing business I know had always been based around home workers. For them, lockdown has actually made recruitment harder, as the flexibility they’d offered staff was no longer a differentiator!

Of course, it’s not a binary choice between 100% office or 100% home and there are many shades of grey emerging, not least over the extent to which it’s up to the manager or the staff member to decide where and when work happens.

While offering some flexibility in terms of working location and hours will (and always did) attract a wider range of talent, we need to be careful not to make assumptions that offices are ‘bad’. I was talking to some business school students recently and the vast majority were desperate to get jobs in offices working 40+ hours a week! For them this is as much an aspirational life style choice as it is a way to build their skills and networks.

Perhaps we should check back in with them in 20 years and see how that’s going!

London Accountant

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