The Future of Work: People and Work

The Future of Work

Nationwide has defined four areas in which the nation needs to be supported in order to rebuild with confidence: Work – how and where we do our jobs; Home – how and where we live; Financial Wellbeing – how we support ourselves and others in times of need, and Community – how we interact with the world and each other.

Britain’s biggest building society commissioned respected market research company Ipsos MORI to explore these themes this year, with reports being published throughout 2021. The insight will help Nationwide determine how it can best use its position as a member-owned organisation to support it’s members, its employees and society more generally. The first of these reports - The Future of Work - is published today.

The way we work has become a defining feature of the pandemic. Rather than rushing into a view of how we should work in future, Nationwide gathered 30 leading UK organisations to understand what the workplace could look like in a post-Covid world, and used these findings to help shape the report.

The report looks at how the pandemic has impacted different generations and demographics and how people might want to work in future. It also shines a light on how Nationwide, and other, are responding to the opportunities presented by Covid-19 on how many of us might do our jobs going forward.

Below Nationwide Chief Executive Joe Garner talks more about the Future of Work.


Key takeaways from the report:

1. Workplace equality set back by the pandemic:

  • Women took on the lion’s share of childcare, and were more likely to lose or quit their job during the pandemic
  • People from ethnic minorities have taken a bigger financial hit and, as they are more likely to be key workers than white people, are more at risk of contracting Covid.

2. Urgent action needed to close Covid ‘generation gap’:

  • Younger generations have been much more likely to be furloughed or lose their job
  • Almost half are worried about job prospects, amid reports that recession will hit lifetime earnings

3. From stay at home to go to work? Tensions over future of remote working:

  • Gen Z need to spend more time with colleagues face to face to do their job properly, but they also see their working week shared between an office and at home
  • People don’t think their employers will let them work at home as much as they’d like to

4. WFH presents challenges as well as opportunities

  • 1 in 5 remote workers lacked the space or technology to do so productively
  • Just over half of UK workers need to be onsite –potentially opening up a new employment divide

5. Revenge of the suburbs: a chance to level up?

  • People and communities will gain from a more flexible work model
  • Death of the city centre may be exaggerated, as large employers encourage workers back to the office

6. We need to manage the unpredictable impacts of WFH on the environment

  • Emissions from commuting fell dramatically but higher energy use at home may outweigh savings in winter

7. Employee trust and empowerment will drive new ways of working

  • Office hierarchies have been transformed by the pandemic, as decision making was delegated, and everyone began working flexibly and remotely

8. Inclusivity and wellbeing top employers’ people priorities

  • Zoom fatigue: remote working brings new wellbeing challenges

Case studies



Simran is living with her parents in London while she saves for a property.

Simran is currently enjoying working from home. Spending more time with her family has served as a reminder of what’s truly important to her. As a transport planner, she feels she is actively contributing to her city and the wellbeing of those within it, particularly when it comes to encouraging cycling or walking. Though she hopes to eventually get a home of her own, for the first time, Covid has made her think about the possibility of living abroad.


Alexandra is job-hunting but is keeping busy devising creative ways to keep afloat.

As a recent graduate, Alexandra is finding it challenging to start her career, particularly during the pandemic. She lives in a flat-share and sells second-hand clothes on Depop. Envisioning her first office job, she has organised her home space in order to keep her motivation going, and her work-life balance intact. Decorating, going on long walks in nature, and learning new skills means Alexandra reframes her unemployment as a positive experience.



Catherine is enjoying working from home as she gets to spend more time with her family. Catherine and Andrew have recently carried out a major home renovation after her father, who was living with the family, passed away. After making changes to their house, Catherine is comfortable in a property that both reminds her of her father but also suits their current lifestyle. Working from home allows her to spend more quality time with her family –be it cooking or taking long walks in the Welsh countryside.


Mother of three young children, Jenna, is juggling childcare and part-time work. Jenna’s friends would describe her as ‘sarcastic, honest and loud’. She is self-employed, and in addition to home-schooling and looking after a toddler, finds daily life quite challenging. Her bedroom has become the office of her partner, Ben, and their living room has been part classroom, part temporary workstation. Nevertheless, Jenna and Ben are hoping life will soon return to normal, so are not making permanent changes to their home just yet.