Back to Normal? Or ‘the Great Resignation?’

There has been much hype lately about life returning to ‘normal.’ The headlines have been abuzz with ‘the return of the five day office week.’ Then there have been other headlines: “Avoiding the great resignation will require some creative thinking.”

The truth is, none of us will know for some time yet which will turn out to be the case. They can’t both be right. So, will we end up simply returning to pre-Covid normality, with Zoom calls a mere memory? Or, will workers, re-acquainted with the joys of traffic jams and commuting, decide that their work/life balance should take precedence?

Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument.

Returning to pre-Covid normality

This is as we all expected when we first started working from home. While initially, a blend of home working and office will prevail, the Centre for Cities think tank is predicting it will ultimately be “back to normal.”

Director of Research Paul Swinney says the reason is simple: “One of the benefits of being in the office is having interactions with other people. Coming up with new ideas and sharing information.”

It’s a view famously shared by Steve Jobs. As he put it “Ideas don’t happen in the boardroom. They happen in corridors.”

If this is true, we’d all better get back to the office pronto. And, if not for the sake of creativity, then for the sake of the UK economy. But, after so long, the question now is whether people would want to?

Wanting something new – The Great Resignation

Centre for City’s argument was equally simple. People now recognise that they can live on less money. So, naturally they are questioning whether they want to even go back to the office. According to one article: “As many as 40% of employees are considering changing jobs in the next six to 12 months.”

While the statistic was based on London, the same could equally be true for most of the cities in the UK. Will people really want to go back to traffic queues and spending money on commuting? Some undoubtedly will. For those living alone, 15 months of working from home will have been undeniably lonely and difficult. But for those with families, the extra time lockdown afforded from not having to commute, will have made a big difference. Shared childcare, the chance to balance work and family commitments – they are going to find being tied to the office five days a week a lot less attractive.

The City AM article stated that business owners and directors will need to be creative if they’re to avoid “the great resign.” That is almost a certainty. Lockdown saw a record number of businesses set-up in the UK. You wouldn’t bet against that record being broken again in the first year of working patterns being “back to normal.”

Ben Griffiths

Written by Ben Griffiths

Ben is a financial planner from our Whiteley office. While he specialises in pension planning, Ben is also able to generalise into all other areas of financial planning.

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