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Three quarters of businesses are planning to put an end to the traditional 9-5 working day and instead allow employees to work remotely more often after lockdown, according to a recent survey.
A piece of research carried out by Dale Office Interiors has canvassed the opinions of MDs, CEOs and business owners and discovered that COVID-19 will have a long-term impact on how and where we work moving forward.
Earlier this week, SHP reported that 30% of people don’t feel safe about returning to work and it seems that whilst physical offices still play an important role, the option to work remotely is here to stay.
During lockdown, as many as 80% of business leaders have said that felt their employees had been either as productive or more productive while working remotely and many have realised that agile and flexible working can be incorporated into a sustainable future for businesses.
Offices still play an important role for face-to-face meetings, collaborative working, social interaction and for those who work better in those environments, but over half (56%) of business owners said they are planning to downsize to reduce overheads.
David Bricknell, MD of Dale Office Interiors, said: “Hygiene and social distancing will obviously be top priority in the short-term, and almost all UK businesses will have to invest in rethinking the way they work and their office design and layout. It’s amazing to see how far along the long-term thinking is among the leaders of British industry.
“The one small benefit of COVID-19 is that it has given the British workforce the opportunity to prove itself capable of being as or more productive working remotely, enabling businesses to consider the long term benefits of allowing people to work where they work best, whether that be from home, in a booth in the office, at a desk, or even at a local coffee shop.
“Allowing people to work remotely when they and the business will benefit from it will have a huge positive effect on everything from emissions due to less cars being on the road, to reducing sickness related absenteeism and improving the mental health of the nation, thus boosting productivity.”
Mental health considerations
Before the lockdown, it was predicted that half of UK’s workforce work regularly worked from home, but for those that don’t, it has meant adapting and caring for the mental health and wellbeing of remote workers has been high on the agenda. A 2017 United Nations report found that 41% of remote workers reported high stress levels, compared to just 25% of office workers. However, during the coronavirus lockdown, almost 1 in 4 Britons have report a positive improvement in thier mental health. That being said, employers can’t rely on that lasting forever and maintaining regular interaction with staff will have to be considered as we move into the ‘new normal’.