The coronavirus crisis is set to leave a lasting impression on business leaders – and changes to business working practices as a result.
Seventy-four per cent of company directors in a survey conducted by the Institute of Directors expect to sustain an increased volume of working from home (WFH) once the current crisis abates.
This includes more than 40 per cent of directors who said that WFH was proving more effective than their previous set-up.
Directors are also more likely to sustain newly routine flexible working and compressed hours, and one in five mentioned moving a service that they provide onto an online platform.
However, the IoD has also warned that sustaining increased levels of homeworking in the long-term would bring into focus employers' legal responsibilities to remote staff.
It is also arguing that the government should help SME businesses through improved tax incentives to enable greater digital investment; better access to leadership and management training to reduce concerns about the impact of remote working on employee wellbeing; and lower national insurance contributions to help firms to retain more staff.
Roger Barker, director of policy at the IoD, said: “Remote working has been one of the most tangible impacts of coronavirus on the economy. For many, it could be here to stay.
“Working from doesn’t work for everyone, and directors must be alive to the downsides. Managing teams remotely can prove far from straightforward, and directors must make sure they are going out of their way to support employees’ mental wellbeing.
“The UK has long needed to up its game when it comes to management skills, and the pandemic has only made this more pressing.
“The benefits of the office haven’t gone away. For many companies, bringing teams together in person proves more productive and enjoyable. Shared workspace often provides employees with the opportunity for informal development and networking that is so crucial, particularly early on in a career.
“It seems more and more companies will take a blended approach to where they work. In the long run, greater flexibility could benefit both business and worker alike. However, it's crucial that the legal and economic implications of this change are grappled with from the start.”
A total of 958 company directors completed the survey, which was conducted last month.