The return to the office after pandemic lockdowns increased in 2022 as hybrid working took hold in British businesses and employees headed to desks in suburban locations, according to figures from workspace provider IWG.
The average number of visits to IWG’s more than 300 UK workspaces increased by 54% from January to November as more workers split their time between home and the office.
Growth in the company’s flexible workspaces has increased by 25% since June as office-based workers gather together more often during the work week.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays remained the most popular days of the week for employees to work from the office, the IWG found, and visits on those two days doubled from January to November. Workers are more likely to finish their work week at home and not attend the office on Fridays.
The cost of living crisis had caused employees to choose to work from office buildings closer to their homes to save on travel costs, the IWG found.
Suburbs are among the company’s fastest-growing locations, and it said demand for workspace away from busy city centers had grown by more than a third (36%) in 2022.
Bolton and Cardiff (both up 190%), Hemel Hempstead (140%) and Chelmsford (112%) were among the places with the biggest increases in movement, according to the IWG. Smaller towns and cities in the south east of England also fared well, including Guildford, High Wycombe and Slough.
Most UK businesses have introduced some level of hybrid working since the pandemic, and official figures earlier this year showed that the vast majority of workers wanted to continue splitting their time between home and the office post-Covid.
IWG founder and chief executive Mark Dixon said: “Business leaders are confident that hybrid working offers a significantly reduced cost base as well as the ability to attract and retain the best talent.”
Predicting that hybrid work will further accelerate in 2023, Dixon said hybrid work “allows colleagues to collaborate in person to drive innovation and new ideas.”
IWG said it was planning to add 1,000 new locations globally over the next year, most of which will be in rural and suburban areas. In the UK, it has recently opened co-working centers in towns with populations between 10,000 and 30,000, including Chippenham in Wiltshire, Redhill in Surrey and Evesham in Worcestershire.