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Though CRE Industry Disagrees, Businesses Increasingly Saying Workplaces Will Remain At Home Long-Term

JP Morgan, Nat West Group, Facebook, Google … The list of businesses making working from home a permanent part of their employment strategy grows longer every day.

Law firm Linklaters is the latest, announcing new working practices for its 5,200 employees.

Employees will be allowed to work outside the office for 20% to 50% of their time.

The company follows DLA Piper and financial services businesses including JP Morgan, Nat West Group, Standard Life Aberdeen and Schroders. Some have said staff can work at home indefinitely.

Two new pieces of research point in the same direction, suggesting working from home will be the mainstream option even after the pandemic ends.

Figures from Manpower Group show UK and U.S. workers and bosses are more reluctant to return to the office than those in mainland Europe or Asia, the Financial Times reports.

Meanwhile a staggering 86% of UK chief executives believe the shift toward remote working will outlast the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from PwC.

The pandemic has prompted organisations to fast-track digital collaboration and new systems and services, the consultancy said.

Now CEOs are embedding these changes in their organisations, and doing it with more conviction than their global equivalents, whose enthusiasm is slightly more muted: PwC says globally, 78% think remote working will endure.

More automation and lower density or smaller office workspaces may be the result; PwC reports 68% of CEOs believe this will be the final destination.

PwC surveyed 699 CEOs in 67 countries, including 96 in the UK, during June and July.

The property industry remains hopeful that offices have a role.

Analysis published last week by Cushman & Wakefield said the new normal will be “a total workplace ecosystem.”

The firm argues that the difficulty younger workers find working from home will drive a mix of property options.

“The workplace will no longer be a single location but an ecosystem of a variety of locations and experiences to support convenience, functionality and wellbeing,” the report said. “Current footprint sizes will remain steady, balancing social distancing’s relaxing of space density with less office space headcount demand in the new total workplace strategy.”

Knight Frank has also insisted working from home will not be forever.

“Businesses are immeasurably weaker without recourse to an identifiable collective hub. That is not to say that the form and function of the office is beyond reconfiguration but, once again, rumours of the death of the office have been greatly exaggerated,” Knight Frank Global Head of Occupier Research Lee Elliot said.

“A WFH-only approach doesn’t just cull a centralised meeting point, it lowers your employees’ propensity for human connection, creativity, innovation, team culture, accountability, productivity and the chance to feel valued.”