Is Remote Working Soon To Be a Remote Possibility?

Is Remote Working Soon To Be a Remote Possibility?_

Five days at your desk – is the return to traditional office life imminent? Remote and hybrid working has seen a massive rise since the pandemic, and more businesses than ever are trialling a four day work week.

These innovations aim to improve productivity and employee satisfaction. So why are we seeing companies turn their backs on the schemes and remote working? Leeds marketing agency Punch Creative explores the trend and why we’re sticking by our four-day, hybrid work arrangement.

If you keep up to date with business news you might have seen many big brands like Nike calling their workers back to their desks. Instead of maintaining their remote working options, they want everyone back in the office. At the same time, many trials of four-day schedules are being scrapped. Is the only way to make sure your team’s success having them with managers at all hours, signalling a potential return to presenteeism? At Punch, we’re always looking to innovate our work environment to get the best results.


Punch moved to a four-day work week during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the team to be able to achieve a better work-life balance. The three-day weekend means more time to spend with family and to relax, rest, recharge, and pursue all the other creative projects that help us get the best out of our team.

 Many young people are delighted by the possibility of a four-day work week. According to one Bankrate survey (you can find more details here) 92% of young people said they would sacrifice other benefits for a four-day work week. This included completely giving up the option to work remotely in exchange for a longer weekend. 

In fact, nearly all generations are in favour of a four-day work week. 61% of Gen X’s who were surveyed said they would be willing to work longer hours in exchange for one less day of work. It just goes to show how much people are beginning to prioritise their work-life balance and focus on their health and stress levels. These are all great things. Reducing stress reduces the risk of many health conditions including high blood pressure and heart attacks. A trial of 360,000 workers in Valencia (see more information about this trial here) showed that a four-work week resulted in a 64% increase in the amount of sleep they got and 72% of participants used this extra time to see their friends, which has been shown to boost mood and help tackle mental health issues. Another trial, which you can see here, showed that 71% of employees reported fewer feelings of burnout too 

What boss wouldn’t want happier, healthier, more well-rested employees? 

It’s something we’ve continued long past the end of lockdown because we’ve found it actually improves productivity and our quality of work during those four days. 

However, at the same time, we were hybrid working, allowing the team to choose when they worked and where they worked. This mix of agile working and flexi-working was extremely useful when returning to work, and trying to make sure our marketing agency remained viable in a really difficult time. 

But as time went on we spotted flaws with the system.

The image shows an office with non remote workers facing towards one another, working at their desks in an open plan office

Connect, Creative, Collaborate

The beauty of a full-service agency is the fact we have different teams working on the same project, allowing a really well-rounded approach to the marketing of our clients. To be really successful at this we need to collaborate. It’s a part of what makes Punch so special. Instead of being a social media marketing agency or a design agency, we’re full-service. Being anti-niche is our niche. The design team has to work with the web team to create visually stunning websites and the content team has to work with client services to make sure we’re hitting briefs perfectly and smashing it out of the park. 

While there are great applications we use to connect (Microsoft Teams, Basecamp, Float), there’s no replacing the magic of having a back-and-forth discussion, looking at a possible logo together, or discussing the best copy for an Instagram post. Creative projects need to be fluid and intuitive, and being together undoubtedly helps that. 

Our Creative Director, Richard Lowes, expanded on this, sharing that ‘Remote communication is more transactional. You generally have a time limit and agenda set for a meeting and reading each other’s reaction to ideas and solutions is harder via Teams or another platform. Knowing when to leave people alone to think is also a challenge!

The nature of video calls or emails is more linear, it seeks the most efficient route from A to B. 

Developing creative ideas is not about drawing straight lines. Ideas often meander, noodle around, reset, get killed off, and get reborn as something better. In short, remote working leaves less opportunity for the sort of open-minded serendipity that arrives at great ideas.’

‘Developing creative ideas is not about drawing straight lines. Ideas often meander, noodle around, reset, get killed off, and get reborn as something better.’

Richard Lowes – Creative Director

If Someone Falls, You Pick Them Up

It’s far more than just that though. Punch prizes itself for being a great place to work. Employee satisfaction is key to what sets us apart from other agencies. When you’re in the office it’s far easier to spot when a coworker is struggling or may need a chat. You can bring them a cup of tea or just offer a little more support on a project when needed. If we all look out for one another, it makes the team stronger. That makes us better at our jobs. We’re also big believers in peer mentoring at Punch, which is so much easier if you can get hands on and provide support throughout the day rather than through clinical emails. 


Prioritise Your Company Culture 

If you’re looking to cement a positive vibe between departments and a collaborative ethos then we believe your employees have to be in the office – at least some of the time. You don’t want a ghost-ship scenario and to lose what makes a marketing agency so great 

Here’s what our commercial director Louise Wright had to say about it ‘Our culture suffered when we were too remote. Our culture is our most important asset and we have a team that enjoys and wants to spend time together, as soon as you make that via a screen, that is lost. We noticed a general lull in the Punch magic that we always have here.’ 

It’s worth noting, however, that a recent Gallup analysis found that hybrid workers felt more connected to their organisation than employees overall. So perhaps the best way forward is to find a healthy middle ground.


Keep Your Employees Happy

Employers listen up – because it’s far more than just a lack of creativity and collaboration you risk losing going totally remote. Punch noticed a dip in eNPS scores while employees were working mainly from home. This is a big worry. Part of what makes your business, or any agency so successful is the employees. If you’re unhappy you could risk losing major talent. You want your employees to enjoy working for you. Retention is so important – as is company reputation. If they wouldn’t recommend you to a friend, it’s a sign something has to change.

‘Ultimately having a hybrid approach works well for us and is more beneficial for our clients and our team.’

Louise Wright – Commerical Director

What Life Looks Like For Us Now 

So we decided to offer one day a week working from home (that employees could take at any point in the week). It means there’s still flexibility for childcare, appointments, or a chance to skip your stressful commute, but we’re not losing out on the things that make collaborative work so special. With just three days in the office (four days if you’re feeling it), a good work-life balance is much easier to maintain. 

In October 2023 ministers officially warned councils in the UK that they have to abandon all plans to adopt a four-day working week, as well as stopping all future trials. The official reasoning for this is that it wasn’t giving taxpayers value for money. Many agencies may see this and follow suit.  

What’s important for both employers and employees to note is that ACAS is producing a new statutory code next year on flexible working which means workers will have a right to request flexible working from their employer from the first day of their job. Currently, staff have to wait until they’ve worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more before making the request. This application can be rejected for many reasons by the employer though so we may not see rates of flexible working going up anytime soon.

An image of a man remote working at a desk with his laptop set up on a teams call.

Remote Working

Why would people want remote or hybrid working?

Remote and hybrid working has become somewhat of a standard for many people looking to enter the workforce or switch roles. 

The younger gen, makers, and morning commute haters

The office has become somewhat of a dreaded space for many – especially young Gen Z employees who had never experienced so-called ‘traditional’ office life before the pandemic. Consider 2020/2021 graduates who spent the last year or so of their education mainly working remotely, and then were flung into hybrid and remote jobs. It’s not a return to the office for them – it’s a brand-new start. You can’t deny that could be a disorienting experience. 

For introverted workers and so-called ‘makers’ (i.e. designers, writers, tech developers) who spend most of their day hunched over their laptops working on one or two big projects, working remotely by themselves can be the ideal situation. It means they can concentrate without the distraction of coffee machines, office chatter, and cheesy pop songs. 

When you look at the current state of the rental market and the financial climate, finding homes in busy cities where many businesses are based is basically a nightmare. But long commutes can tire out workers before they even start their days. The opportunity to skip it just one day a week can be an enticing offer.

It’s clear the benefits of at least a hybrid setup (hence why Punch has embraced this approach), but there are also many advantages to being in the office. Alongside improved collaboration, company culture, and being able to offer more support, there are other reasons you might want to be in the workplace. 

Body doubling is an incredibly effective tool for productivity and it’s lost when you’re home alone, working by yourself. Seeing others work and achieve makes you want to get in on the fun. Plus, the office banter is irreplaceable.


Is the five-day work week imminent?

It might seem like there’s a movement towards a five-day week in the office with brands like Nike reverting back to traditional office setups, but looking at the appetite of workers and the benefits for employers it doesn’t look like hybrid working will be abandoned anytime soon. 

For the majority, flexibility is key and a hybrid approach offers the best of both worlds. 

This is what we found at Punch Creative, and after trying out a five-day week, full remote flexibility, and other options we’ve landed on an approach that works best for us all. A four-day work week with the option to take a day at home when needed means that we still find time to collaborate and connect. Our Head of People is a huge proponent of getting the team together, embracing organising get-togethers and events so we can all let off a bit of steam as well. 


‘Working in the office helps manifest our culture and values, nurturing creativity, collaboration, and a sense of belonging, giving people something that screens simply cannot replicate.’

Helen Fairburn – Head of People
If you’re interested in finding out more about our workplace culture, you can read more posts here. If you’re interested in working with Punch, you can get in touch here.