‘Stampede back to work’ could wipe out flex gains

New work from the Chartered Management Institute finds employees cautious about a return to work and employers aren’t listening

Gender equality


A ‘stampede back to the workplace’ could wipe out the flexible working benefits working dads have enjoyed over the last year.

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has surveyed hundreds of managers. And the CMI warns that bosses are not listening to their employees when planning for a return to work.

Final coronavirus restrictions are expected to be lifted next month. For many that will open up the option of going back to a place of work after a year of being ordered to work from home.

However, many employees are cautious and anxious about returning to work.


The Chartered Management Institute surveyed hundreds of line managers and HR professionals for its research. Eight in 10 managers said their employees were apprehensive about returning to an office. Social distancing (50%) and the use of public transport to commute to work (48%) are the biggest worries.

Employees cited their concerns with working from home too. They said social isolation (71%), distractions (70%), mental health worries (66%) and work-life balance issues (60%) had been problems over the last year.

However managers expect an average of three in five employees back in the office once restrictions end.

The CMI research found only half of employers had consulted with their workforce about returning to work arrangements.


CMI chief executive Ann Francke warned that’s a problem. She said there was a risk that the flexibility benefits seen over the past year will be lost if the voice of the employee is “drowned out in the stampede back to the workplace”.

She said: “Real progress has been made in the way we work in the last year. To simply reset to factory settings of the old nine to five in the workplace model would be a step back.

“This summer we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our working practices for the better by incorporating flexible hybrid ways of working which have proved to be the preferred option.

“You have nearly two-thirds of employees, both male and female, who want to work from home at least one day a week and we’ve now seen that that’s entirely possible. It’s worth remembering that employees perform better when they have a say in their working arrangements which can lead to a better work life balance and better productivity.”

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