In Brief

‘Working from home is here to stay’, new study reveals

Institute of Directors survey finds that three in four firms plan to continue with increased home-working post-Covid

Leave the office clothes in the wardrobe, crank up the heating and slip back into your pyjamas, because working from home is “here to stay”, new research suggests.   

A survey of 958 company directors by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that nearly three-quarters (74%) intend to continue with increased home-working post-coronavirus. 

More than half said their organisation intended to reduce their long-term use of workplaces. And more than four in ten of the bosses quizzed for the survey, conducted between 11 and 30 September, “said that working from home was proving more effective than their previous set-up”, the IoD reports.

Roger Barker, director of policy at the business lobby group, said: “Remote working has been one of the most tangible impacts of coronavirus on the economy. For many, it could be here to stay.”

But although there are many positives to working from home, managing teams remotely can prove “far from straightforward” and directors “must be alive to the downsides”, he warned.

Conversely, “the benefits of the office haven’t gone away”, Barker continued. “For many companies, bringing teams together in person proves more productive and enjoyable. Shared workspace often provides employees the opportunity for informal development and networking that is so crucial, particularly early on in a career.

“Looking ahead, it seems more and more companies will take a blended approach to where they work.”

The new survey findings chime with those of a BBC poll in August which revealed that 50 of the biggest UK employers had “no plans to return all staff to the office full-time in the near future”.

A total of 24 firms quizzed by the broadcaster did not have any plans to return workers to the office, but a further 20 had opened their offices for staff unable to work from home. 

‘Positive effect’

Meanwhile, research by Cardiff University and the University of Southampton into the effect of homeworking on productivity has found that the results are “largely positive”.

During lockdown, the team conducted three surveys that each included more than 6,000 people across the UK. The research found that almost nine in ten workers wanted to continue with some degree of home-working long-term, while almost half wanted to work from home all the time. 

According to Cardiff University student paper Gair Rhydd, “the surveys showed 41% of workers said that they felt as productive working at home in June 2020 as normal. The other 29% reported getting more done at home and the final 30% doing less.” 

Professor Alan Felstead of the university’s School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, said: “What is particularly striking is that many of those who have worked at home during lockdown would like to continue to work in this way, even when social distancing rules do not require them to. 

“These people are among the most productive, so preventing them from choosing how they work in the future does not make economic sense. Giving employees flexibility on where they work could be extremely beneficial for companies as they attempt to recover from the impact of Covid-19.”

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