Coronavirus looks set to have a lasting impact on office use, new figures from the Institute of Directors reveal.

In a survey of close to a thousand company directors conducted last month, nearly three quarters (74%) said they would be keeping increased home-working after coronavirus. Furthermore, more than half of those polled said their organisation intended to reduce their long-term use of workplaces. More than one in five reported their usage would be significantly lower.

Among those who had been using their workplace less before the change in Government recommendation last month, more than four in ten said that working from home was proving more effective than their previous set-up.

Business leaders surveyed had been making a number of other adjustments during the pandemic that they intended to keep in place. 43% had embraced greater use of flexible working such as compressed hours, while over a fifth had moved a service they provided online.

958 company directors were surveyed between 11-30 September.

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.

“The UK has long needed to up its game when it comes to management skills, and the pandemic has only made this more pressing. It’s crucial that the Government targets this key area, ensuring businesses and their people can make use of accessible courses that reflect their skills needs.

“Any remote-working set-up is only as good as the technology that enables it. Alongside continued investment in digital infrastructure, the Government should give small firms the headroom to invest in the latest equipment and software. The restrictions have spurred significant innovation, but low revenues and high costs could put a lid on this.

“Looking ahead, it seems more and more companies will take a blended approach to where they work. Any transition can cause challenges, and the Government should look to ease this. 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.”

Full survey results

958 respondents, conducted between 11-31 September 2020.

Have you made any of the following changes to your organisation due to the pandemic that you intend to now keep in place?

Increased working from home74%
Increased flexible working (e.g. flexitime/staggered hours/compressed hours)43%
Moved operations to digital platforms26%
Moved product/services to digital platforms21%
Created a new product/service21%
Diversified supply chains7%
Onshored operations/supply chains2%

621 respondents, conducted 11-24 September:

Which of the following are the main reasons for the current reduced use of your workplace? 

Concerns around infection at workplaces65%
Working from home is proving more effective44%
Prospect for further waves/lockdown34%
Concern around use of public transport33%
Due to a reduction in operations17%
Issues around childcare15%
Cost of adjusting workplaces9%

For information on productive secure biophilic home-working environments

Contact Clive Bonny Strategic Management Partners 

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