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Revealed: how many days FTSE 100 companies have staff in the office

Many employers offer a mix of home and office work  (PA)
Many employers offer a mix of home and office work (PA)

Next month will mark the third anniversary of the momentous day that drove a coach and horses through the traditional Monday-to-Friday working week — possibly for ever.

He could not know it at the time but when Boris Johnson ordered that first lockdown on March 23 2020 he triggered a revolution with profound implications for lifestyles and the economy.

All Covid rules have long since been lifted, but working from home is now hard-wired into the daily working lives of millions of people who seem in no hurry to squeeze themselves back on early-morning commuter trains when they can work from their kitchen tables.


As Alex Veitch, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce puts it, the Covid crisis “turbocharged the switch to a hybrid approach”.

Figures from property specialist Remit Consulting show that while numbers coming into offices are slowly rising — the national average office occupancy of 34.3% in the week ending January 27 was the highest since the group began tracking the figures in May 2021 — there are few signs of a rush back to five days a week “presenteeism”.

So is flexible working here for the long term and are offices still important to bosses? To get a snapshot of some of the latest working patterns across Britain, the Evening Standard asked every member of the blue-chip FTSE 100 index how many days on average staff work in the office each week, and if that would change or stay the same this year.

We received responses from more than two-fifths (44) of the businesses on the index spanning sectors including retail, real estate, insurance, engineering and more, that collectively have more than 100,000 staff working in offices, mostly in the UK.

The results show that the old Monday- to-Friday office week that was once the default is far from making a comeback.

The research found almost all respondents offer the option of flexible and hybrid working although there are some businesses that want people in for at least a certain number of days weekly.

It suggests that for most private employers the new normal is for workers to be in offices for between two and three days per week, often between Tuesday and Thursday.

The most common pattern was three days a week in the office (14 firms). Two to three days was second-most popular (eight), followed by two days (six). A few companies such as NatWest say one or two days is still standard.

The feedback suggests that working from home is popular, but in-person meetings are still considered important. A spokesman for financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown, where the vast majority are in offices two days a week, says: “Office-based days provide vital social connectivity, a break from video meetings, as well as the opportunity to collaborate and network.”

GSK is moving to a new central London HQ in 2024 (GSK)
GSK is moving to a new central London HQ in 2024 (GSK)

At insurer Hiscox, where staff work in offices an average of three days per week, chief executive Aki Hussain says: “Building a business needs passionate and energetic people who come together to deliver for customers. We can do a lot of that online/remotely but our office environment is really important to us— it’s where we build relationships, collaborate and learn.”

Simon Carter, who leads property developer British Land, where office-based workers are asked to be in for at least three days a week, says demand for modern and sustainable office space has grown. He believes that comes as businesses “recognise the vital role that great workspace plays in creating a culture of collaboration and learning”.

The responses also reveal that there is unlikely to be a major shift in 2023 — hybrid working really is here to stay. However some have noted gradually increasing numbers in offices. Mining giant Anglo American says its London headquarters is reaching close to capacity on certain days, usually in midweek.

Businesses also look to be spending big on offices for the long term, with drugmaker GSK moving to a new central London HQ in 2024 and credit data firm Experian saying since the pandemic it has invested in redesigning its offices.

Meanwhile a number of property developers are betting on demand for workspace holding up, with 10 tall new buildings in the planning pipeline in the Square Mile. “It is a major sign of long-term economic confidence in the City,” says Chris Hayward, City of London Corporation policy chairman.

Occupiers signing new building leases will want to make sure the interiors can cater for new ways of working, with more meeting rooms and less fixed desk areas. Tobi Crosbie, founder of commercial office consultancy Making Moves London, says: “In 2019 approximately 30% of our client requirements had specified the need for spaces to accommodate hybrid working. As of today, however, I would say that is closer to 90%.”

Hybrid working looks set to stay for the foreseeable future with employers rapidly adapting to a change in working practices that many of their staff simply seem to prefer.

See the full survey results from each company HERE