From education to employment

Graduates feel ‘return to office’ pressure despite hybrid working benefits

Lady working at her desk

The majority of graduates think that their employer wants them to return to the office despite the negative impact that might have on their productivity and wellbeing, reveals a new survey by Prospects at Jisc.

The survey by Prospects, which runs the UK’s largest graduate careers website, is based on the responses of nearly 3,000 graduates. It found that the majority preferred hybrid working (60%), compared to fulltime in the workplace (16%) or remotely (16%).

However, the majority of graduates (62%) felt that their employer wanted them in the workplace full time – despite them clearly favouring hybrid or remote work environments for productivity (71%) and overall wellbeing (80%) compared to attending the workplace – 24% and 14% respectively.

Graduates did recognise that being in the office was most effective for engaging with colleagues, getting support from managers, and feeling part of a team.

Prospects’ survey also found that while entry-level workers expect to be supported when in the office, managers are less likely to be there.

Graduates in entry-level roles were more inclined to work in person (58%) and less likely to be in hybrid work (35%). Just 7% worked fully remotely.

Conversely, managers were least likely to physically attend the workplace (35%). Instead, they favoured a hybrid work arrangement (47%) or fully remote work (18%).

Graduates could prefer going into the workplace because they lack a dedicated working space. The majority of entry-level graduates worked remotely in their bedrooms while more experienced staff were most likely to be in a home office or spare room.

Chris Rea, Prospects graduate careers expert at Jisc commented:

“If graduates think they’re wanted back in the office this could mean additional pressure, particularly since they associate better wellbeing with the flexibility of being able to work remotely. However, this perception may not always be the case.

“People early on in their careers can lack the necessary capabilities and confidence to navigate politics and procedures at work. They may not have built relationships with managers to enable them to comfortably ask what’s required, so it’s important that employers are clear about where and when they expect staff to work. Ensuring that managers are in the office at the same time as more junior staff can help them build the skills and behaviours they need to thrive.”

Related Articles