Research by The Works Search, a specialist recruitment agency for the PR and comms industry, found that most comms professionals did not want to return to the office on a full-time basis, and only six per cent wished to work from home all the time.
The firm surveyed 400 corporate comms professionals about their preferred working conditions after the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked about their ‘ideal working situation’, one-third said they would prefer to spend 60 per cent of their working time in the office, and 40 per cent working from home.
Another third said they would rather spilt their week the other way round, with 60 per cent of their time at home.
Fewer than 10 per cent of those surveyed wanted to spend four days in the office, but 20 per cent also said they did not want to work from home four days a week.
The results suggest a desire among the sector’s workforce for hybrid working conditions.
Encouragingly, more than 80 per cent of respondents said they thought their employer would grant blended working conditions for staff if they requested it.
The survey found that three days in the office and two days at home is most favoured by men, millennials and baby boomers.
Results also suggested that female and Generation X respondents leaned towards three days at home, and two in the office.
Don’t risk looking out of touch
Sarah Leembruggen, managing director of The Works Search, told PRWeek: “When over two-thirds of corporate comms professionals want to work from home two or three days a week, it’s not something employers can ignore or think will change by next year.
“Lots of employers are changing their working practices, and those firmly rooted to five days in the office may end up looking ‘old-fashioned’.”
Leembruggen continued: “I can pretty much guarantee the companies unwilling to embrace hybrid working in any form will feel the effects when hiring and retaining staff. Consultancies are already fighting for talent, so this could be the deal-breaker when deciding which company to join – especially for women.”
The employer’s view
Jos Simson, chief executive of comms and investor relations agency Tavistock, told The Works Search survey that its team has been back in the office two days a week – on Tuesday and Wednesday – since the beginning of September.
He said: “We will increase this to three days in the office from October, with the third day being at the individual’s choice.”
Simson thought there were advantages to both home and office working.
He said: “In lots of ways, we have seen much greater sharing of information between the teams. We saw improved client documents when colleagues were at home and away from office background noise and related distractions.”
He continued: “There is no substitute to hearing how colleagues are pitching in stories in an open plan office – particularly for the younger members of the team. By not being in the office every day you run the risk of missing that invaluable ad-hoc coffee with a colleague or contact.”