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Majority of UK businesses considering permanent switch to remote working, survey reveals

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Wednesday, 24 June 2020. Posted in Insight, Analysis

82% of UK businesses say they plan to stick to current remote working arrangements implemented during the lockdown, a survey by Whereby has revealed

Majority of UK businesses considering permanent switch to remote working, survey reveals

82% of UK businesses say they plan to stick to current remote working arrangements implemented during the lockdown, a survey by Whereby has revealed

Thousands of employees across the UK are now working from home after offices were forced to shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak. As the pandemic continues to slow down, the UK is now taking gradual steps to ease the lockdown restrictions and allowing Britons to return to work once again. However, not all businesses are keen on returning to their old 9-5 office life. Majority of businesses are now considering allowing their staff to work from home permanently after the coronavirus lockdown, a survey by video conferencing platform Whereby has revealed.

According to the survey, 82 per cent of UK businesses said they are open to the idea of allowing a more flexible working approach – which means working from home could be the new norm. Meanwhile, 65 per cent of businesses said they will downsize or change office space once the lockdown is lifted. The poll surveyed about 1,5000 British professionals reliant on Whereby’s platforms.

Øyvind Reed, chief executive of Whereby, said: “It would appear that the unprecedented events of the past two months, which necessitated an overnight abandonment of traditional working practices, are going to result in a profound, long term change in professional behaviour. Companies and employees worldwide are being forced to revaluate all that they knew about the working day, conducting business, and managing and sustaining a team. To my mind, this research highlights two things. Firstly, remote working is not something people fear nor wish to resist: employees and decision-makers alike are recognising and embracing its benefits. Secondly, businesses are already looking ahead to how the lessons learned from lockdown might be applied to strengthen and streamline their working practices - from office rental to recruitment - once enforced remote working is no longer in place.”

Several SMEs have even decided to leave their offices permanently and adopt a working from home policy for their staff post-lockdown. Chief executive of Bishopsgate Financial, Mike Hampson, has declared plans to ditch its swanky London office and allow all its 18 employees to work from home with staff meetings just a few times a month after lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“As we were all pushed to work on new tools, we found that remote working worked really well for us,” Mike said. “As a team, we're still going to have to meet up on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but we don't need a permanent office for that. Our clients have accepted it as well. I think giving up office space will become a trend and the Regus's of this world will really struggle. The technology has only just got the stage where it's effective when it comes to internet speed. Also, this way of working has been more productive.”

As businesses have been forced to work from home after lockdown, many employees have felt the benefits of remote working and many companies receive positive feedback such as a boost in morale and increased productivity.

Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene said: “Remote working was always going to become more common in the years ahead, but now it has been abruptly thrust upon us. While many businesses already embraced more flexible ways of working, there are some that are only just realising the wide-reaching benefits and challenges it presents. And this research reveals that organisations are now facing unprecedented demand for lasting changes – ones that will create a healthier work-life balance and boost morale. This will not be an easy transition to manage – particularly for those who didn’t offer flexible working before the lockdown. It’s important businesses ensure employees are fully equipped to work from home, which includes investing in hardware and software, especially communication tools. Indeed, Studio Graphene recently found that 29% of employees feel out of the loop from the rest of their organisation while working remotely. Further, open and honest company culture will prove invaluable if remote working is to be effective in the long-term. Once restrictions are lifted, we can expect more requests for permanent flexible working arrangements. And take note: businesses that ignore these calls risk losing their talent to more progressive competitors.”

As lockdown restrictions began to ease, more workers are being asked to return back to the workplace. It is essential that employees implement gradual measures to facilitate the transition from working at home to the office. With many firms now open to flexible working arrangements, which could see a dynamic change to how British businesses are run as employees bid farewell to their routine office life.

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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