The return to the office after the pandemic lockdowns gathered pace in 2022 as hybrid working took hold at British businesses and employees headed to desks in suburban locations, according to figures from the workspace provider IWG.
The average number of visits to IWG’s more than 300 UK workspaces climbed by 54% from January to November, as more workers split their time between home and office.
Footfall at the company’s flexible workspaces has risen by 25% since June as office-based workers have gathered together more frequently during the working week.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays remained the most popular weekdays for employees to work from the office, IWG found, and visits across these two days doubled from January to November. Workers are most likely to finish their working week at home and not attend the office on Fridays.
The cost of living crisis had led to employees choosing to work from office buildings closer to their homes to save on commuting costs, IWG found.
Suburban spots are among the company’s fastest-growing locations, and it said demand for workspaces away from busy city centres had increased by more than a third (36%) in 2022.
Bolton and Cardiff (both up 190%), Hemel Hempstead (140%) and Chelmsford (112%) were among the locations with the biggest rise in footfall, according to IWG. Smaller towns and cities in the south-east of England also did well, including Guildford, High Wycombe and Slough.
The majority of 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 office after Covid.
IWG’s founder and chief executive, Mark Dixon, said: “Business leaders are confident that hybrid working offers a substantially reduced cost base as well as the ability to attract and retain the best talent.”
Forecasting hybrid working to accelerate further in 2023, Dixon said hybrid working “allows for 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 coming year, most of which will be in rural and suburban areas. In the UK, it has recently opened co-working centres in towns with populations of between 10,000 and 30,000 including Chippenham in Wiltshire, Redhill in Surrey and Evesham in Worcestershire.