26% of UK businesses plan to close or downsize their offices

A quarter of UK businesses will either close, downsize or consolidate their offices in the coming months of 2021, according to findings from workforce experience platform Applaud.

The research, which was conducted by YouGov in April 2021, found 53% of 500 small, medium and large organisations plan to offer more flexible or remote working policies, while 30% are expecting employees to work in offices between one to three days a week. A total of 14% said they will not require staff to visit workplaces at all once restrictions ease.

More than two in five (44%) businesses admitted their HR department was not equipped to deal with remote working during the early stages of the pandemic, whereas 43% have since invested in their HR teams to improve the situation.

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The research also revealed that employers want to spend ‘significant’ resources rewarding employees, with 18% stating they will look to give staff better pay and or promotions in the coming months, while 46% will implement better remote working tools to ensure continued engagement and productivity in the future.

Duncan Casemore, co-founder and chief technology officer at Applaud, believes organisations are now “embarking on an era of unprecedented change”.

He said: “Driven by employee experience, business leaders are turning away from the traditional five days in the office format, instead moving to provide more productive flexible and remote working scenarios.”

Casemore added: “While there has been great clamour from the workforce to implement more flexibility in the way we work, the Covid-19 pandemic has provided the catalyst to initiate these changes. To ensure employees remain productive while remote working, organisations must continue to invest in the HR technologies that offer a consumer-grade worker experience, and which keep remote employees motivated and happy.”