May 21, 2020

The new normal for office workers

Coronavirus B2B tracker: May 21st 2020

Olly Wright, EVP, Public
While organisations may see the benefits of remote working, it also creates various dilemmas for them to grapple with

As working from home looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, businesses face the challenge of balancing productivity and innovation with overall employee wellbeing

Since the middle of March, the lockdown has affected individuals, society and business in numerous ways. The sudden closure of many workplaces across the country forced sudden and unprecedented changes to working practices and cultures for those who were able to work outside their normal workplace.

Despite many people being urged to go back to work over the past week, those who can work at home are still being told they should continue to do so. This leaves vast swathes of the workforce getting very used to a changed way of working.

Remote working is here to stay

Last week Twitter announced that staff could work from home forever if they wished, a statement that must have been borne out of a realisation that the business could operate just as effectively with everyone working remotely.

Indeed Savanta’s B2B COVID-19 tracker reveals that 65% of SMEs and 93% of larger businesses plan to change working practices permanently after the effects of the pandemic have waned. While most won’t opt to go to the same lengths as Twitter, many businesses (24% of SMEs and 40% or larger businesses) indicated that they would permanently increase remote working options. Forced into it, it seems many businesses can see the benefits of less office-based working.

It could be argued that remote working was already on the increase with many organisations creating workplaces to fit only a certain proportion of the workforce. However, for the average employee the majority of working hours were still being spent at the office or at client offices. It’s not something new, but it is one of the many areas that the pandemic is likely to increase the pace of as we evolve into new ways of working.

Remote working presents significant challenges for organisations

While organisations may see more clearly the benefits of remote working for them and their employees, it also creates various dilemmas for organisations to grapple with. How do people collaborate effectively? How does the business innovate? How do leaders lead? And how do employees stay motivated and aligned to organisational goals?

Whatever the new normal does look like for office workers and their working environment, employers will need to adapt quickly to ensure there aren’t detrimental effects on employee wellbeing and engagement, and on achieving strategic goals and delivering customer experience.

Admittedly, it is difficult for some sectors to adapt working practices when the customer experience is driven by employees being present in a particular place at a particular time, but for those who can it seems there will be long-lasting effects of this pandemic on the UK workplace and working cultures.

Savanta provides insights to help organisations restart after the pandemic and adapt successfully to the new normal. Find out more about our trackers here.


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