A major study by Virgin Media O2 Business and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CeBr) has uncovered the truth about the hybrid working revolution – that it could provide a £76bn boost to UK GDP within the next four years and result in a net uplift of £236bn by 2040.

Jo Bertram, Managing Director, Business and Wholesale at Virgin Media O2, said of the report’s findings:

“The UK has made years of digital progress over the past 18 months and now’s the time for business leaders to build on this momentum and commit to a hybrid digital future. That means investing in technology that helps people work smarter, boosts productivity, all while helping achieve better societal outcomes and adding £236 billion to the UK economy.”

Historically businesses and business leaders have questioned the validity of remote working. However, the rapid shift to remote models necessitated by the coronavirus lockdowns has proved that for many roles, in many industries, remote working can be successful and in some cases increase employee productivity.

Employees are positive about the benefits remote working brings

The report claims that nearly half of the UK’s 8.6 million part-time employees would increase their working hours if their employer would let them work remotely. This would lead to 1.27 billion more hours worked annually – which could boost GDP by £48bn. The study also found that hybrid working could result in a direct increase in income for part-time workers of up to £3,600 annually.

Hybrid working models would also attract more people back into the workforce. The report estimates an increase in 3.8 million people previously unable to work; including 1.5 million disabled people, 500,000 carers, and 1.2 million stay at home parents.

Employers are also now recognising the positives of more flexible models

The report also reveals both employers and employees share similar views on hybrid working and recognise many positive aspects of working more flexibly 18 months after lockdown restrictions were first imposed.

Employees report being more productive (36%), more in control of their work (34%), feel trusted (26%) and empowered (27%) with 20% of workers less distracted when working at home.

According to the research, business leaders share their employees’ enthusiasm for hybrid working with more than two thirds (69%) believing changes to working policies driven by Covid-19 will be made permanent. This has been motivated by growing demand among employees for better work-life balance with 85% reporting that working remotely offers them additional leisure time to relax, see family and friends, or spend time pursuing hobbies.

There is close alignment between organisations and their employees on what they view as the optimal working arrangement in the future, too. Employees now expect to work remotely 2.5 days per week, while company leaders also expect employees to work remotely about half of the week (2.3 days).

Investment in digital is key to the continued acceptance of hybrid working

The widescale acceptance and adoption of hybrid working models is only possible if sustained investment in digital technologies continues.

The report suggests that the continued digital delivery of services and the use of big data by organisations across private and public sectors could lead to a boost of £76bn to UK GDP within the next four years and result in a net uplift of £236bn by 2040.