Almost three-quarters of businesses that were surveyed said that they planned to maintain working from home.

According to a new survey from the Institute of Directors (IoD), 74 per cent of companies said that they would be keeping increased working from home after COVID-19.

Over half stated their intention to also reduce their long term use of workspaces with more than one in five reporting that their usage of workspaces would be “significantly lower”.

Additionally, over four in 10 stated that working from home was more effective than their previous set up whilst a similar number (43 per cent) stated that were using flexible working significantly more which included compressed hours. Over 20 per cent had moved a service that they previously provided to an online platform.

However, the IoD have warned that increased working from home could cause problems as legal questions are raised over what responsibility employers have over staff outside of a formal office space. HRreview previously reported on employers’ rights when it comes to discipling staff for social media posts created on their personal accounts.

Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the IoD, said:

Remote working has been one of the most tangible impacts of coronavirus on the economy. For many, it could be here to stay.

Working from doesn’t work for everyone, and directors must be alive to the downsides. Managing teams remotely can prove far from straightforward, and directors must make sure they are going out of their way to support employees’ mental wellbeing.

The UK has long needed to up its game when it comes to management skills, and the pandemic has only made this more pressing. It’s crucial that the Government targets this key area, ensuring businesses and their people can make use of accessible courses that reflect their skills needs.

Looking ahead, it seems more and more companies will take a blended approach to where they work. Any transition can cause challenges, and the Government should look to ease this. In the long run, greater flexibility could benefit both business and worker alike. However, it’s crucial that the legal and economic implications of this change are grappled with from the start.

Jonathan Richards, CEO & Founder of Breathe, a HR software company, said:

 With such a high proportion of businesses confirming that remote working is firmly sticking around according to the IoD survey, it’s great to see firms have been listening to their people in many cases and updating traditional work practices. Decentralised team working during the pandemic has uncovered that working productively doesn’t always require a strict 9-5 office setting, as proved by many businesses currently working successfully despite dispersal of team members.

It’s true that in times of crisis, already existing trends can be accelerated or be wiped out completely. Flexible working has been on the cards for a long time and has been tentatively creeping into policy. However, now, the benefits clearly outweigh the concerns around its viability. Some people thrive working from home, while others prefer a collaborative setting. It’s also true that while some business leaders have seen an increase in performance levels, others may have seen a drop. What’s important is that employers are offering choice and a balance, acknowledging the power of flexible working and cultivating a culture that allows staff to work at their best, wherever that might be.

 

*The IoD conducted this survey between the 11th-31st September 2020 and asked 958 respondents.