At least three in four managers in UK businesses feel that ‘collaborative’ workspaces are now more suitable for their post-lockdown business models than full-time staffed offices, according to a survey.
The study for Onecom, a telecommunications provider, polled 1,000 UK managers in late August and found that 77 per cent agreed that more casual workspaces designed to facilitate meetings and collaborative working (such as a coworking space) would have significant advantages for their business over a full-time staffed office.
Just 7 per cent of managers disagreed that they could see the benefits of a collaborative workspace over a full-time office. The study comes as many businesses are making hard decisions about how their teams will operate in the future because of social distancing and the changed economic landscape.
The study also surveyed another 1,000 general workers at UK businesses to find out how employees have been coping with working at home through the pandemic. More than half (56 per cent) said that the way in which their work teams operate has now "changed forever" owing to the coronavirus, suggesting that many workers may now be expecting their work arrangements to change for good, even once a vaccine has been found and further restrictions lifted.
Helen Myers, Onecom’s operations director, said: “There has been a move towards more flexible and collaborative working for many years now, however, it's clear to see from this study that the impact of the coronavirus and the lockdown has sped up this process exponentially. Many of the managers that we work with, who were perhaps a bit apprehensive about what it would be like to manage employees remotely, are telling us that they’ve found working from home remarkably easy and enriching for their teams. The real thing that people are missing is the face-to-face interaction and many businesses are now waking up to the fact that you don’t necessarily need a full-time office for that.”
The study also found that millennial and late Gen-Z managers are up to 27 per cent more likely than baby boomers and managers from older generations to support ditching the office for a more modern way of working.
Separate research by support services firm Sodexo found that eight out of 10 employees who have worked from home during the pandemic have stated that they would like to continue working remotely, albeit on a part-time basis (33 per cent say ideally three days a week, 30 per cent two days a week). However, the lack of social interaction has left three out of 10 feeling lonely and of those still working from home at the time of the survey 57 per cent stated they felt nervous about work in the next few weeks/months.
The research, conducted in June 2020, tracked the sentiments of UK employees from both the private and public sectors during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Respondents were asked about a range of issues including physical and mental wellbeing, productivity and the perceived pros and cons of remote working.
Employees put a significant amount of trust in their employers to protect them, so "businesses must be prepared to deliver a safe environment, illustrated by almost seven out of 10 concerned about their own health and safety at work", according to Sodexo.