22 May, 2020
It’s estimated that 20 million people are now working at home since the coronavirus pandemic hit, which has increased from 1.7 million prior to the outbreak, meaning more Brits than ever before are having to navigate remote working.
But how is this new normal - which now requires working from a makeshift home office - impacting workers whose usual workplace has been affected by Covid-19? Here at Hoxton Mix, we wanted to find out more about workers’ perceptions of the future of remote working, as well as exploring the impact on Brits’ home lives, so we carried out a survey of British households to find out more.
Interestingly, our survey has revealed that 2 in 5 managers (40%) believe their company would benefit from remote working in the future, and would even consider encouraging their company to be fully remote beyond the pandemic. This suggests that the prospect of a virtual office or more permanent remote working is now appealing to many company leaders, since the Covid-19 outbreak.
But what do British workers think about remote working beyond the pandemic - and do they agree with the opinion of managers? The survey reveals that they do agree, to a very high percent; 70% of those surveyed predict that more businesses will choose to work from home. The value of technology in this situation should not be ignored, and has most likely played a major role in the effectiveness of remote working as the country has adapted to the pandemic repercussions.
However, our survey also revealed that the attitude towards turning fully remote varies between industries. For example, more than 3 in 5 (64%) respondents who work in the Sales, Media and Marketing industries agree that this would be a positive change, but only 16% of workers in the Arts and Culture sector agree, highlighting that there’s not just going to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to working from home in the future.
We also wanted to delve into attitudes towards remote working between cities, which reveals that more than 3 in 10 (35%) in London agreed that this would be a positive move for their company, but only 1 in 5 (21%) respondents in Belfast felt the same. In fact, Belfast was the city that agreed with this statement the least in comparison to other UK cities. Will we see more remote working opportunities for Londoners following the pandemic than any other UK city?
The results to this aspect of our survey were positive, with more than half (52%) of Brits saying that they have found an improved work-life balance since the pandemic hit.
Whether this be from taking out the need for a commute, or that the ‘remote office’ now being based within homes, many workers have found that their working hours aren’t eating into their home life as much as prior to Covid-19. In addition, our survey also showed that 64% of Brits have been able to spend more time with their families since working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Business owners have undoubtedly had a lot of changes to steer their way through over recent weeks - from working to keep their employees’ well-being high and dealing with financial repercussions, all whilst adjusting to the situation on a personal level, it’s a high pressure situation for many business owners and CEOs. However, 3 in 5 (60%) business owners revealed in our survey that working from home during Covid-19 has helped to improve their work-life balance.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for every profession and job role. For example, the number of manual workers who are able to work from home during this time haven’t felt as much of an improvement in their work-life balance, as only 3 in 10 felt the same.
Whilst it may be assumed that the prospect of working from home would be more natural to the younger generations, given that they have had more exposure to flexible working in their lifetimes in comparison to older generations, our survey reveals that this is not the case. More than three quarters (79%) of respondents aged 55 and older think that the Covid-19 pandemic will change the future of work and how many businesses will opt to work remotely, compared to half (56%) of 16-24 year olds.
Productivity levels are also something we asked Brits about in our survey, to explore whether working from home had a better impact on productivity than an official workplace environment. We found out that 3 in 10 (31%) respondents aged between 16-24 stated they have been less productive whilst working from during Covid-19, but only 19% of professionals aged 55 and older have faced the same struggles. In fact, 2 in 5 respondents of this older age group have felt more productive during this time.
The impact on productivity has also varied between company sizes, with 36% of respondents who work at medium size businesses believing that they’re more productive while working from home compared to 27% of respondents at small businesses.
Ultimately, there’s no doubt that the workplace as we know it could not only take a long time to get back to where it was prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, but that it may never go back to this at all. Our survey results also showed that 2 in 5 (43%) business owners believe that having an office is an unnecessary business expense, so should we expect the future of the workplace to look very different forever following Covid-19?