With 95% of London office workers still permitted to work from home in some capacity, the majority (73%) said they would leave their job if this flexibility was no longer available according to research by Bloomberg Intelligence.
Almost two-thirds (64%) said they would only be swayed from this decision if presented with a pay rise of 11% or more, matching inflation at a minimum.
Despite the threat of recession, only 1% of respondents felt they might face negative consequences for refusing to return to the office.
Bloomberg Intelligence found that the norm among London office staff was to work at home for two or three days a week (57%). The proportion who worked fully remote fell from 24% in June 2022 to 19% in February 2023.
The majority (70%) said hybrid working was a permanent arrangement at their employer, up from 43% in June 2022.
Susan Munden, senior industry analyst for real estate at Bloomberg Intelligence, said: “London employers have adapted to the new working trend by offering more flexibility, based on our survey…We believe that flexible working will remain prevalent for the long term.”
One of the core reasons for a reluctance to return to the office was transportation costs (67%), which are only being driven higher by inflationary pressures.
Alasdair McGill, managing director of accounts and consultancy firm Ashton McGill, told Benefits Expert that from his perspective as both an employer and a consultant for other businesses, home working was an important way to help with financial wellbeing during the cost-of-living crisis.
He said: “It’s an indirect benefit, because [employees are] not having to travel, pay for fuel or the bus. Now, the flip side of that is they’re at home, so they’ve got electricity, the internet and so on to pay for.
“Up until April of last year, through the pandemic, HMRC had a policy where people could claim a working from home allowance. Really disappointingly, HMRC cancelled that. I think that’s part of government’s drive to get people back into their offices, but when we live in difficult times, with the cost of energy and so on so high – it was only £6 a week, but it feels pretty unfair to have taken this away as so many organisations are hybrid working.”
Munden added: “London employers may need to keep flexible work arrangements permanently in order to retain talent. Employees are looking for flexibility, with three quarters of respondents either having changed employer or would do so in the next six months to secure hybrid or fully remote work arrangements.”