Home working proves a hit with directors

It seems coronavirus will have a lasting impact on UK employers with almost three-quarters of company bosses saying they would retain some form of home working once the pandemic has passed.

A survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) of almost 1,000 company directors also found that more than half of those polled said their organisation intended to reduce their long-term use of workplaces, with a fifth saying the reduction would be 'significant'.The IoD warned that the prospect of increased home-working over the long-term could raise legal questions around employers' responsibilities for staff outside the office.Additionally, the organisation called on the government to take a number of steps to help the economy adapt to increased home-working. The proposals included improving tax incentives for SMEs to enable more firms to harness new digital technologies and bolster the productivity of home-working.The IoD also wants to see improved access to leadership and management training to reduce concerns around the potential impact of remote working on productivity and employee wellbeing.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.
“Home working from doesn’t work for everyone, and directors must be alive to the downsides. Managing teams remotely can prove far from straightforward, and directors must make sure they are going out of their way to support employees’ mental wellbeing.“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."But Mr Barker added that the benefits of the office have not gone away and that, for many companies, bringing teams together in person proved more productive and enjoyable. "Shared workspace often provides employees the opportunity for informal development and networking that is so crucial, particularly early on in a career."The survey, conducted among 958 directors last month, found that among those who had been using their workplace less, more than 40 per cent said that working from home was proving more effective than their previous set-up.The IoD said: "Business leaders surveyed had been making a number of other adjustments during the pandemic that they intended to keep in place: 43 per cent had embraced greater use of flexible working such as compressed hours, while over a fifth had moved a service they provided online."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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