Is hybrid working a deal breaker?

Didn't find your answer?

I'm employed as a finance manager and have just had an instruction from my employer that all remote working is to be brought to an end, with all staff to be office based 100% of the time. I actually don't mind the office, but I do have a 30 mile commute (60 miles both ways), and have organised my life around having a couple of days a week working from home (the rest in the office). Along with being able to stagger my hours, it has given me the flexibility to manage the work/life balance well without getting run rugged - I've school-aged children with various extra-curricular interests, and I currently have no childcare arranged.

Does it sound like I'm overreacting if my first thought is to dust off the CV and look for something closer to home? The role pays well, and I get on with everyone, although I do get bored from time to time and wonder if this is the impetus I need to take the next step in my career. 

 Would be interested to hear if anyone else had such a scenario and what they decided...

Replies (20)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By Justin Bryant
12th Jan 2023 13:39

My view is that this kind of thinking is more or less 100% connected to the current low unemployment rate (and the current general shortage of workers). If unemployment were say, 20%, far fewer people would be feeling underappreciated at work (for whatever reason - including limited hybrid work). It's that simple i.e. you (and pretty much everyone else) can currently be a chooser rather than a beggar.

Thanks (2)
Replying to Justin Bryant:
avatar
By Leywood
12th Jan 2023 15:10

Just had this conversation with a client this morning.

Thanks (0)
VAT
By Jason Croke
12th Jan 2023 13:45

Pandora's box was opened during lockdown and my view is that hybrid working is here to stay.

Appreciate some firms are trying to get people back into the office, but have they asked why? Is it because bosses don' trust their staff, are staff less efficient, have staff suddenly gone feral and lost all professionalism?

If a detailed and reasoned analysis has been done and can be justified, then the move back to the office would be understood and justified, but often it's just a knee-jerk reaction to get bums on seats where they can be seen.

I can see hybrid being a key deciding factor for the professional services industry, just like 15 years ago the idea of offering say private healthcare or having your birthday off or childcare vouchers were not considered relevant and only focus was on salary, times change, some people want hybrid.

At my firm, we contemplated going back to the office but when we asked ourselves why, we couldn't think of a reason, we were paperless before lockdown, we use cloud software, sure the office generates a nice buzz and maintains the culture/spirit of the teams but WFH doesn't remove the culture, we still have after work drinks for those who do come in, we have various staff events, people respect the flexibility.

It's also a generational matter, your GenZ/GenX value things other than money, none of them will be able to afford a house in their lifetime(!) so salary isn't their only goal, lifestyle matters to them and the problem employers have is that they will have a mix of 20 somethings through to the ancient and they all want different things, so to bow to the ancients because they like the office/already got a house and nice pension, means the potential to lose talent at the younger end who are wanting something else. I am joking about the inability to buy a house, just saying that for comedic effect.

I could go on about this at various levels of theory and human nature, but to answer your question, if you prefer hybrid and that's not on offer, then I am sure your talents will be required elsewhere and with a pay/reward/hybrid package that suits you.

If businesses don't understand their people and their needs, then businesses will have a staff retention problem down the line and good luck getting someone in to replace who is forced to com into the office everyday when the trains don't work, the roads are clogged and public transport costs thousands of pounds, etc.

Thanks (9)
Replying to Jason Croke:
avatar
By the_drookit_dug
12th Jan 2023 15:01

Thanks for the detailed response Jason.

Hybrid definitely preferred, and to be honest, it tips the scales - my current job is 30 miles away in a rural town. I don't think my employer has realised that he has just brought Edinburgh into play, which is 50 miles away from where I live. Suddenly a hybrid role in the city, with likely higher salary and 2-3 days a week at home is a lot more attractive. The work/life balance is key here.

Thanks (1)
Replying to the_drookit_dug:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
12th Jan 2023 16:22

Plenty of demand in Edinburgh. Depending on employer relationship with you a water cooler chat about things might be useful, most employers can weasel exceptions if they really want to keep you.

Thanks (2)
Replying to Jason Croke:
avatar
By Rgab1947
19th Jan 2023 10:03

Stop being agist!

I am an ancient and would never contemplate working 5 days a week working in an office. One day a week is nice. 2 days is beginning to push it.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Roland195
12th Jan 2023 13:46

I would imagine that if you made your feelings known, your employer might not press the point to avoid the recruitment & other costs with replacing you.

There seem to be a lot of companies doing this but exceptions seem to be made for various reasons.

Thanks (2)
avatar
By zebaa
12th Jan 2023 13:49

I'd have a sit down chat with The Boss. If he says No, resume work as instructed, then you have to think how you react, but just don't do it straight away.

Thanks (2)
avatar
By Tax is always taxing
12th Jan 2023 13:59

We brought everyone back into the office as soon as possible. We were back to over 50% in the office from July 2020 and built up from there with suitable precautions.

I would imagine it depends on the industry, in a firm full of professionals where time is recorded and monitored its easy to track and monitor, in other sectors not so much.

We've not had any issues, but then nobody really had the chance to get used to working from home to really miss it.

Thanks (2)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
12th Jan 2023 14:54

Id sit and wait for a bit and see what happens. You might well find your company changes its tune if enough people grumble. You don't have to lead the charge, but you can if asked point out you don't see the point in sitting in traffic as you have been delivering your role in the current manner for the past 2-3 years.

Yes its helpful to be around to meet people, but its not needed all the time. Split working I think is going to be the norm for most office based roles and be a real plus at the recruitment stage, not least for the employer as you can then recruit outside of a comfortable commute distance if its only once a week or so.

Thanks (1)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
avatar
By the_drookit_dug
12th Jan 2023 15:07

The current balance is just right - my days are fixed, and I have enough of an office presence not to be an unknown entity. Plus the WFH days can be used to get your head down, free from the time thieves who drop by the office to natter - I had 5-6 yesterday, must've lost well over an hour.

Thanks (3)
avatar
By Hugo Fair
12th Jan 2023 14:59

Hadn't realised that you worked for Rees-Mogg!

But the big issue (if I were in your shoes) would be that management appear to have the communication skills of a playground bully ... no explanations of the policy, let alone any opportunity to discuss options with staff?

If you were already having niggles/doubts about staying then I'd certainly dust off the CV - else how will you find out whether "something closer to home" is available AND suitable?
Conversely if you really are happy with all other aspects of current job then, as zebaa says, explain your concerns to the boss - if he/she is not open to doing that then you have your answer!

Thanks (5)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
avatar
By the_drookit_dug
12th Jan 2023 15:09

The role has its ups and downs, and I do think I would like to move on to something new and interesting, but the flexibility of recent years really has worked for me and kept me there. I think this has likely tipped the balance.

Thanks (0)
Replying to the_drookit_dug:
avatar
By Leywood
12th Jan 2023 15:16

Have you had any kind of discussions with your boss over the last couple of years/do they understand your personal circumstances fully?

Why not try putting a business case to them to try to persuade them to retain the status quo, surely you can sell them the benefits rather than just talking about it from your personal viewpoint. You might need to meet them half way.

If this falls completely on deaf ears don’t knee jerk, it might be time to look elsewhere, only you can know that.
treatment so needed more flexibility

Thanks (0)
Replying to Leywood:
avatar
By the_drookit_dug
12th Jan 2023 15:23

My hybrid setup was agreed 2 years ago and has been consistent - other departments in the office have been and struggle, and there have been issues & tensions. Some would prefer to stay away 100% of the time and the lack of any office time ends up in loads of miscommunication.

I think I've been swept up by a broad brush - I'm likely also the one who would find it easiest to walk into another role.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By mbee1
13th Jan 2023 09:02

The vast majority of our staff now work from home permanently. We've downsized the office and it is open by appointment only. Since last July I've only been in three times and one of those was the Christmas dinner day! The admin staff go in more than the technical staff so there's at least one admin member in mist days. Productivity is far greater than it was before and, personally, I don't have 45 minutes each way commute.

Thanks (2)
Replying to mbee1:
avatar
By the_drookit_dug
13th Jan 2023 17:38

45-minute commute each way here too - often my employer is the beneficiary of the extra 1.5 hours in my day...

Thanks (1)
avatar
By LW64
13th Jan 2023 11:05

This does seem a generational thing - and for no good reason other than habit and trust.
Despite being at the higher end of the age range I see no good reason to be in the office 100% of the time.
We have successfully worked remotely over the last 2 years. Hybrid should be a good compromise for all.

If an employer thinks that they cannot trust someone to work to the same level remotely then they probably shouldn't employ said person at all.

To take a philosophical view, 'people see things as they are'.
If your manager knows that they personally wouldn't give 100% from home they perhaps assume that other people are the same as they are.

Good luck with the career move!

Thanks (3)
avatar
By kestrepo
13th Jan 2023 11:39

If you had been only occasionally working from home you could say that it was a temporary measure however you have been successfully working from home for +/- 3 years. This doesn't sound very temporary to me!! Your new Hybrid working may well have started as a temporary measure but the lockdowns ended a long time ago. You could easily argue that your working from home and the flexible working you have been undertaking for what is now such an extended period was an intrinsic and permanent change of your employment contract. I would keep this in mind when talking to your employer - as with most employment matters there is usually compromise that can keep both the employee and employer happy.

Thanks (2)
avatar
By Guilford Accounting
19th Jan 2023 10:19

Sounds like this is a message to test the market; find something nearer home with flexible working?

Thanks (0)