Before the turn of the decade, remote working was something that so-called ‘cool’ or young businesses provided as a perk to attract rising talent. But one global pandemic later, things are very different.
Practically overnight, businesses no longer had the luxury of toying with the idea of remote working as something they ‘could’ offer in a far-off future – they either had to adapt to a remote workforce or close shop altogether.
Business leaders and IT directors now need to understand exactly what the pandemic taught us about remote working and how employees are feeling.
We researched this very issue in December 2020 in our ‘Supporting Your Remote Workforce in 2021 and Beyond’ report, uncovering the big concerns employees have on returning to offices and what measures will be in place to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the future.
Using an independent research house, the results showed an overwhelming majority (83%) of UK office workers agreed that remote working is here to stay.
Catching Covid from their department was the top concern (40%) of UK employees returning to the office, narrowly ahead of the worry about catching Covid from shared office equipment (37%).
And almost two-thirds (65%) would advocate for at least two metres between their desk and a colleague’s desk.
Over half (52%) would welcome mandatory mask wearing in office spaces.
With employees calling for such safety measures to be deployed in the office, it is unsurprising that 83% of UK office workers agree that flexible working is here to stay, suggesting that the office environments of old are long gone.
Many are saying that employees are getting tired of working from home all of the time. But they’re not - they’re simply tired of lockdown measures and effectively being a prisoner in their own homes.
The research showed that almost half of UK office workers (49%) cited a lack of personal motivation while working from home during the pandemic. Business leaders need to focus on employee wellbeing and long-term mental health issues, with lockdown measures acting as the driving force needed to switch attention from key business outcomes to employee motivation.
Well-established and big-named brands are all making moves now towards flexible, remote and hybrid working environments - changes that will manifest across entire industries and provide a real glimpse into what our working environment of the future will look like.
Remote working is here to stay. For companies to thrive in this new world, they need to evolve to be able to provide remote support and ensure employees are equipped to deal with new and existing pressures.