Seven out of 10 business owners have said that they believe remote working will be the future of their organisation even after the Covid-19 pandemic has been brought under control.
The research, from a survey of more than 1,000 UK office workers by consultancy firm Hoxby, also shows that 71 per cent of bosses have been “pleasantly surprised” by their workers’ productivity levels when working from home, and 52 per cent say productivity has increased – even though 54 per cent were initially nervous about remote working.
Employees are also satisfied with the current remote working situation, with 58 per cent saying it gives them more autonomy to complete their work in ways that are better suited to their needs. Remote working has also been positive for mental health, with 57 per cent of managers agreeing compared with only 14 per cent noting negative effects.
A quarter of employees said they would continue to work remotely once the pandemic has ended for at least half the time – up 15 per cent from before the outbreak of the virus. However, 69 per cent expect some form of lockdown and remote working to last for another three months.
More than half (55 per cent) of office managers noted that office culture remains strong, with communication and informal chats happening in a different form. Only 18 per cent of office workers thought working from home had negatively affected culture.
Despite the positive sentiments, survey respondents believed remote working could be improved. Nearly half said they are over-reliant on conference calls, with 44 per cent of office workers even and 54 per cent of managers on conference calls for “most of the day”.
Many business leaders (77 per cent) expect employees to keep traditional office hours when working from home and only 12 per cent are trying to change this trend.
Hoxby co-founder Lizzie Penny said: “Changing working practices is about putting people, their lives, their work, their mental health, all of these things centre stage. I’m thrilled to have seen such positive outcomes after five weeks of lockdown and truly hope remote working becomes a big part of every organisation's future.”
Joint co-founder Alex Hirst said: “It’s great to see the world leaving the industrial age behind and adopting digital age working methods. We’ve long thought remote working is better for society, for business and for people, and these findings are music to our ears.
“We’ve been banging the workstyle drum for five years now, and with a team of 1,000 freelancers over 43 countries without an office we know it can improve diversity, productivity and wellbeing. However, for office workers at large, bad office habits seem to be creeping in with the ‘death by conference call phenomenon’ and ‘coat on the back of the chair’ expectations of presenteeism.
“Organisations need to keep a watch on remote working practices and evolve and better them by gaining a deeper understanding of technology and virtual leadership… Our collective job as business leaders and remote workers alike is to ensure, as a community, we share what is working (and what isn’t), to fine-tune remote ways of working for all. I’m excited for our working future.”