The pandemic has caused a huge shift in the way we work but what will it mean for the future of our working environment?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, may well have said that he didn’t think working from home would become a permanent fixture of the UK economy but there’s no doubt that our working landscape is going to look very different from now on.
While office closures and remote working have been forced by the status quo, the benefits for both employers and employees of this ‘new’ way of working are palpable.
Research by academics at Cardiff and Southampton universities has suggested that the majority of people working from home are as productive, if not more, than when working in an office, while nine out of ten employees who have worked at home during lockdown would like to continue doing so in some capacity.
A number of large employers, such as Unilever, have already announced they will not be returning to an office working environment once the coronavirus pandemic is over, while others like HSBC and Lloyds Bank have said they will adopt a hybrid model.
Research suggests working from home is likely to be a permanent fixture for a majority of businesses moving forward. In October last year, the Institute of Directors (IoD) surveyed around 1,000 firms with almost three quarters (74%) saying they planned to maintain the increase in remote working, while over a half planned on reducing their long-term use of workplaces. When the BBC questioned 50 of the biggest UK employers, almost half said they did not have any plans in place to return workers to the office.
And, according to The Workforce View 2020 Volume 2 report by ADP, which questioned thousands of workers across the globe both before the outbreak of the pandemic and during, 44% of employers now have official flexible working policies in place, up from 24% pre-COVID-19.
This particular report highlighted that the outlook for employers may mean “normalising flexible working on a more permanent basis” considering everyone’s needs and “supporting workers in new ways”, such as ensuring individuals can continue to develop their skills.
Whether companies choose to continue working from home permanently, return to the office, or take a 50/50 approach with the flexibility for employees to do both, finding an effective method of communicating and engaging with staff, wherever they might be working, will be key to keeping workforces motivated.
Engaged employees are the result of having a great experience at work, and the benefits companies offer their employees has plays a huge part in that experience. The award-winning Zest platform offers a fresh approach to employee benefits allowing you to attract, motivate and retain talented staff by helping them get the most from their benefits package, whether they are working at the office or from home.