The Covid-19 pandemic has brought new challenges and opportunities for business to operate during unusual times. One of these opportunities was the ability to work from home. However, Covid-19 has accelerated this with many companies moving their operations to home working within a matter of months.
The Covid-19 pandemic transformed many companies’ ways of working, and many firms identified home working would often cause challenges for employers to work and manage employees efficiently. However, with investments in technology and fibre optic broadband, many firms saw the working from home as a great work-life balance. For example, employers were able to identify within their health and well-being surveys that 68% of employees felt more productive working from home due to greater flexibility with commuting less and arranging better childcare. The average person commuting to work would spend four years in traffic according to a recent government survey.
Companies were able to identify factors like these would help boost productivity and help employees reach the company and personal targets. The decision for businesses to move to remote working was due to many other factors such as social distancing and finances. With UK government guidelines stating members of the public had to stay two meters apart, this meant many offices around the UK could only operate a certain level in order to comply with government guidelines.
Many businesses have reported they could only operate at 50%, which forced many companies to encourage employees to work from home. One of the key guidelines stated offices had to become Covid secure, which meant greater financial outlay from companies to implement one-way systems and ensure checks on employees following government guidelines. Furthermore, companies were able to recognise remote working would allow companies to save money on leasing. This resulted in office space being reduced and employees working from home on a permanent basis.
With increased government restrictions and continued lockdowns, remote working appears to be the new norm for many years to come. Remote working does present significant challenges for employers such as employees feeling isolated, operational and technological issues. However, many companies have invested millions in health and well-being programs for colleagues to feel less isolated. Furthermore, companies have also invested heavily in new IT infrastructures such as laptops and mobile devices for employees to work efficiently.
The Government has also introduced a tax relief scheme, which helps employers working from home to claim up to £6 per week from Government for expenses such as heating, metered water bills, home contents insurance, business calls or a new broadband connection. In the Chamber’s 2020 Employment Report, in partnership with EBC Group and Hewett Recruitment, we are investigating the benefits and challenges of remote working, which technologies have been adopted or increased as a result of COVID-19 and whether businesses intend to change their technology investment plans. The report will be released early in the new year.