Home working - being prepared for the new normal



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How much has home working grown since the pandemic?

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, companies have had to swiftly transition to remote working. Just 5.1% of employees in the UK worked from home in 2019, based on figures from the Annual Population Survey. However, post-pandemic this had risen to a high of 38% in mid-June last year, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.  


Are businesses changing their long-term plans?

Unsurprisingly, big tech companies were some of the first to announce a permanent shift to remote working, with twitter employees being told last May that they could work from home indefinitely. However, this has been followed by companies such as HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group announcing a more permanent move to home working for the majority of staff. The Welsh Government also announced its ambition for 30% of the workforce in Wales to remain as homeworkers post-pandemic, stating that it is a golden opportunity to reduce congestion and pollution, and improve work-life balance. 


Do employees want to stay working from home?

The Welsh Government is certainly on message, as according to a recent report titled ‘Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown’, 88 per cent of employees who worked from home during lockdown would like to continue doing so in some capacity and 47 per cent said they want to work from home often or all the time. 

Against this backdrop, companies need to be prepared for home working, or hybrid working involving a mixture of home and office work, to become the new normal and many firms will want to introduce an element of choice. However, there are some areas where companies can really make a difference to the home working experience and help to boost its success. 


Four ways to help home working succeed:

1. Provide the right technology - A huge 62 per cent of remote workers want employers to provide better technology that helps them stay connected with their colleagues. However, companies looking to replace their current solution with a more agile solution, allowing them to work anywhere, could cost around £2,200 per person for hardware, software and support.

Here at Direct Voice and Data, we have just the solution with our On-Demand Office. Firstly, we analyse the software, hardware and telecoms needs of your team and then present you with a shopping list style bespoke solution to help your team thrive in whatever environment they’re working in.  All your services will be bundled into a flexible financial solution to suit your budget and with dedicated project and account management, if you ever have any issues, we’ll be on hand to fix them. You can then spread the cost over a three-year period, meaning you’ll pay less than £65 per person, per month. 


2. Stay connected - According to research by TotalJobs, 46 per cent of UK workers have experienced loneliness during lockdown. To avoid staff feeling isolated when working from home, companies can consider the following:

  • Schedule daily, weekly and monthly meetings to keep all team members in the loop and increase virtual facetime.
  • Utilise technology for chat, file sharing and video communication, such as Microsoft Teams. As part of our on-Demand Office solution, we can advise you on the best software to suit your employees, based upon their needs.
  • Studies show that not knowing how much attention people are actually paying when you can’t see their faces makes communication harder, so video calls are a better idea to boost productivity and overall mood.


3. Retain a work/life balance - Unlike leaving the office, remote working means the borders between work and leisure time are in more danger of becoming blurred. Here are some ways you can combat this:

  • Setting your status as ‘away’ is a great feature of Microsoft Teams and alerts people to when someone is on their lunch break for example.
  • Creating a dedicated workspace and only work when you are in this space, much like entering or leaving an office.
  • We offer telephone services which allow employees to make calls from their mobile that appear to come from an office line. This can help with work-life balance as you can switch the feature on and off depending on your working hours


4. Have the right equipment at home- At the end of the first two weeks of lockdown, 58% homeworkers complained of neck pain, 56% experienced shoulder pain and 55% had experienced back pain, according to the Institute of Employment Studies. It is important therefore that employers are carrying out remote workplace assessments and doing their upmost to invest in their employees’ wellbeing, to ensure staff are not having to work hunched over coffee tables on chairs that don’t adjust on a long term basis.

When remote working is well supported however, it is seen to have some real benefits and two-thirds of employers report increased productivity for remote workers compared to in-office workers, according to data from Finder, with 75% of workers putting this down to due to reduced distractions.


Whatever the future will bring, one thing most companies will be agreed on is the requirement for adaptability as part of their business continuity planning. Whether you are looking for a permanent or temporary move to working from home therefore, you can easily be ready to go with our On-Demand Office solution. 


Why not get in touch to arrange a free, no-obligation Agile worker assessment to ensure that you are prepared for whatever 2021 may bring.

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