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O2 UK Survey Forecasts Rise in Home Working After COVID-19

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 2,766
home working

A new report commissioned by the business division of mobile operator O2, which is based on two recent surveys of UK workers, has found that 45% of respondents predict a permanent change in their employers’ approach to flexible working when the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) lockdown lifts.

The report, which is based on an ICM study of 2,019 UK workers and a YouGov survey of 4,509 adults (of whom 2,394 were workers), found that nearly half the workforce think flexible working will increase, with a third (33%) of this group expecting to increase the amount they work from home by at least 3 days a week after lockdown – rising to 81% for those expecting to work at least 1 day a week from home.

The lockdown has forced many people to work from home, some for the very first time, and as businesses adapt then one of the few positive legacies of COVID-19 could be that many of us end up working from home (WFH) more often; saving money on travel and helping the environment.

Currently, some 62% of employees live within 30 minutes of their workplace. However, according to ICM, if working from home was easier and more common this figure would reduce to 36% and two-thirds (63%) of Brits would then be willing to live up to an 1 hour away from their workplace. In theory this could increase competition for jobs as a wider base may express an interest.

Furthermore it’s noted by YouGov that 2 in 5 employees currently live in a city, but if they had the ability to work more flexibly then 41% of city dwellers would be willing to move out to more rural locations. As a result some places could see a population boom, such as seaside towns (16% expressed an interest vs 7% before COVID-19) and the rural countryside (12% expressed an interest vs 3% before COVID-19).

Katy Liddell, O2’s Director of Business Sales, said:

“Whilst it’s difficult to fully gauge what the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be, [the report] shows us how the demand for flexible working and the role of technology in our working life is accelerating during lockdown, and how this might shape the future of the workforce. What’s clear is the ever-critical role connectivity will continue to play in our working lives going forward, wherever we are working from.

With more of us working flexibly than ever before, for most businesses, digital infrastructure has become more important than physical infrastructure. In the face of this, businesses must continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of their workforce to ensure they continue to attract and retain talent. At O2 Business, we remain committed to helping customers stay connected, particularly in these challenging times.”

However, as our working lives continue to evolve as lockdown persists, employees admit to finding the lack of social interaction challenging. Some 30% of those surveyed by ICM admitted that working from home can be lonely, while 26% miss informal socialising with colleagues. But the continued use of real-time collaboration tools and instant messaging services could be the solution.

Naturally O2, as a communications provider, has a vested interest in highlighting how technology could be the solution to helping people work from home more often, although this tends to have more relevance for fixed line broadband ISP connectivity than mobile. In that sense we wouldn’t be surprised to see take-up of faster packages rise, but weighing against that would be those seeking to cut their costs with a cheaper service due to job losses etc.

At the same time we should remember that many jobs cannot be done at home. Meanwhile employers often like to know who they’re working with (i.e. seeing and training them in the office first), before allowing them extra flexibility to work from home.

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