New research from Grant Thornton UK LLP’s latest Business Outlook Tracker* has revealed that, prior to the implementation of ‘Plan B’ and the return of work- from- home guidance, a hybrid working approach was being adopted by the majority of mid-market firms in the North West, but that some were still facing challenges with its implementation.
Hybrid and remote working is going to remain the norm for many businesses, with Boris Johnson confirming that ‘Plan B’ is going to stay in force until at least the end of January.
Hybrid working, where people split time between working remotely and in an office, was the most common working practice in early December, with the research finding that 80% of the North West’s mid-market businesses surveyed were operating in this manner. Despite this, many were found to still be adapting to the approach.
The research highlighted that one of the most problematic hybrid working challenges was reduced productivity, with nearly half of respondents (44%) who were adopting hybrid working stating that this was an issue.
Given the management difficulties businesses have had to deal with, it’s unsurprising that managing junior workers (35%) and provision of training (28%) were all common issues.
Ensuring a high level of staff welfare was equally concerning, with 36% pointing to mental wellbeing issues such as reducing isolation and anxiety levels as being a challenge under the current circumstances.
Carl Williams, practice leader for Grant Thornton UK LLP in the North West, commented: “With the recent rise of Omicron cases across the UK, and the continuous threat of further variants, it has become clear that hybrid and remote working is here to stay. We know it can offer many benefits to companies and their people, from saving costs on reduced office space to a better work-life balance.
“Despite most businesses being well adapted to hybrid-working now, some across the North West are still encountering the same few issues they were almost two years ago. It needs time and commitment to be truly effective and there is no one size fits all approach. I believe the way we work has changed, and we are all on a learning curve to experiment and find the best method that works for our businesses so we can ensure that our people continue to feel connected and supported.
“At Grant Thornton, we believe the office still has a fundamental role to play in attracting the best talent and nurturing the career development of our people. Having recently moved offices in Manchester, we’re looking forward to getting in more of a routine of utilising the new space when guidance changes, which we believe will aid collaboration between our colleagues, clients and intermediaries.
“Moving forward, businesses need to be open to evolving and challenging themselves as to how their hybrid working approach can be made more effective, such as through investing in new technology that helps teams to communicate and stay connected, and providing additional guidance on how work is organised and co-ordinated.”