With flexible working being a hot topic in the press, and seemingly hundreds of businesses either upping mandatory office hours, or opting for a full return to the office. Is the hybrid method of working still effective or, is it becoming damaging to careers and noticeable to employers.

In the last month, I had a chat with a Senior director-level candidate we placed. We were discussing working from home Vs working from the office and the impact it could have on a career. Our chat sparked a personal interest in the topic, and I was keen to discover if working from home could be detrimental to peoples careers and if the return to the office could be what businesses now need in order to thrive.

How it started

“The emphasis of working from home was imposed by the Government in early 2020, to manage the spread of contracting and passing on Covid-19, however, four-years on, the ability to work from home is a given, especially to Millenials and Gen Z. It’s also the flexibility that 67% of job seekers look for in their next role. (SME Business).

Just this week we have seen UPS demand all of its office-based employees back to the helm, full time, five days a week. Amazon employees must adhere to the new three-day office working policy, and Netflix employees have been back behind their desks since last September!

In the UK it’s said that:

  1. 58% of employees prefer to work from home (CreditSummit)
  2. 65.5% of employees reported that they were able to produce much more per hour while working at home (Wizerd.ac.uk)
  3. 56% reported an increase in happiness levels when working from home too! (Microsoft Survey).

However, an experiment conducted at Stanford University in the US found that:

  1. In-person teams generate about 15-20 percent more ideas than remote teams working on the same problem (SHRM.org)
  2. 60% of UK based workers reported that they feel less connected to colleagues when working from home (Microsoft Survey)
  3. 81% of younger workers say they feel isolated without time in the office (HR News).

If you unpick these stats, it shows that the majority of the survey respondents DO in fact prefer to work from home, but are also keen for a hybrid approach of working too!”

“Last week, I was shocked to read about Amazon’s plan to block promotions for home workers. The Times article reported that Amazon has started tracking the attendance of its UK-based office workers and is blocking promotions if people do not adhere to its new hybrid working policy. This means that its staff throughout Britain must work in the office for a minimum of three days a week. The company monitors office attendance by ensuring that staff scan passes when entering its corporate offices.

I have to agree with Amazon’s hybrid approach as I believe the office environment encourages productivity, group contact, shows work ethic, demonstrates how busy you are, gives you the ability to access training and development opportunities, and can also demonstrate leadership and management skills, something you can’t show off remotely.

When we work from home we reduce our visibility within the business, limit our face to face interactions and ultimately become too comfortable in our current roles, perhaps not wanting that development. If a sacrifice is to be made are people more happy at home getting the housework done, picking the kids up from school and not progressing?

A study from Office Wire found that Remote workers are 38% less likely to receive bonuses, remote workers have worse performance reviews and don’t advance as quickly as their office-working peers and Hybrid workers earned on average 23% more than remote workers.”

The office also promotes in person learning and elements such as mentoring opportunities can be missed when we work remotely.

Catherine Adnele, Snr. Director, Global Employer Brand once said: “The more you understand the process of mentoring, the more you realise that it’s no surprise that some of the most successful and influential people in the world can easily tie their defining moments in life back to a strong mentoring relationship they had or still have.”

A 2024 report said: 84% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs, and 100% of Fortune 50 companies, with 89% of those who have been mentored will also go on to mentor others. (Guider-AI).

91% of people who have a mentor are more satisfied with their jobs.

“Mentors enable healthy working habits and excellent working practices, which could enable your career to soar, but, when we work from home, the mentorship isn’t just less, it’s non-existent and without this special guidance, your career could be in for a rough ride!”

James Dyson has previously said that people should not work from home because it is not where, “the creativity happens.” He said: “You need the interaction of other people to make progress and above all you can’t train people when you’re at home. I’m 73 and when I come into work I’m learning all the time, we’re learning from each other. You can’t train people and learn when you’re sitting at home.” (National Business News).

At Kingston Barnes we implement a flexible working approach which allows the team a mixture of remote working and office working. I’m a firm believer that in the office is where the magic happens, how great conversations and collaborations start and is the best place for your career to excel. What do you think?