HOME and hybrid working look to be here to stay almost three years after Covid forced a sudden exodus from office buildings.

Millions of people moved rapidly to remote work after Boris Johnson announced the first coronavirus lockdown on March 23, 2020.

Nationwide Building Society – which had around 950 staff at its offices in Richmond Hill, Bournemouth – subsequently adopted a policy allowing staff to work wherever they would be most effective.

A spokesperson said: “Since the pandemic the way we work has fundamentally changed, with colleagues splitting their time between working from home and the office. This hybrid approach is something we are committed to and we have now taken steps to ensure our office space is being used effectively, with the right facilities for colleagues to serve our members.

“We have leased out four floors at our Bournemouth Admin Centre to Vitality Health Insurance. Nationwide remains on the remaining four floors. We’re committed to Bournemouth and have invested in the property to create spaces for more collaboration, ensuring it is fit for the way our colleagues want to work today and in the future.”

Vitality, which is leaving its existing building on Richmond Hill for the move to Nationwide’s Portman House, said: “At Vitality, employees are encouraged to come to the office regularly to collaborate with colleagues in person, with the majority of employees spending at least two days in the office each week.

“We believe our approach to hybrid working enables employees to connect, create, collaborate and learn when they are together in the office, while also being able to enjoy the time and flexibility to work in a way that best suits them and their family needs.”

JP Morgan, which has more than 4,000 staff attached to its offices at Chaseside in Bournemouth, has settled on staff being in the office for a minimum of three days a week. A minority of roles require attendance five days a week.

Janell White, consultant at Bournemouth-based Trinity HR, said: “Where the work allows, hybrid working seems here to stay. The model has many benefits, with individuals being able to choose more flexible schedules and businesses reducing overhead costs. Employers who fail to offer or consider hybrid working struggle to attract and retain talent.”

But she added: “Hybrid working is a type of flexible working which can be divisive if not managed thoughtfully, splitting a business into different groups – those who work from home, those who work remotely, and those who are allowed to work remotely or from a designated office space. This places a greater need for more regular and intentional communication, and opportunities to check-in with people.

“Managers often struggle with proximity bias as their teams are not physically close or visible. Those who are ‘out of sight’ can literally be ‘out of mind’.”

She added: “Time will tell whether hybrid working is here to stay or not. But one thing is certain –people want a new deal. The psychological contract between employers and employees has shifted.”

Joy Bruce, managing director of Bournemouth-based Collaborate Recruitment, said: "I would say that working from home, or certainly a more flexible, hybrid work model, is definitely here to stay. I would go as far as saying that candidates are more inclined to accept a position with a flexible work model over a more competitive salary, as many have seen the benefits of having a work life balance.

“We struggle to recruit candidates into roles that don’t offer any form of hybrid/flexible working, even for those companies with other fantastic benefits, and a work culture that they believe is worth coming into the office for.”

She added: “I encourage my clients to offer a hybrid work model, but with a caveat that during the initial onboarding or training period, however long that is deemed to be, they are office based.

“There is no denying that we are in an ever-changing world, and those organisations who chose to adapt and innovate are those that will attract great talent, and retain their existing staff as well.”