As a champion of remote working and the technology that enables it, we wanted to see how businesses were responding to the coronavirus outbreak after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on as many people as possible to work from how where they can.
Our research reveals that only 14% of UK office workers have been mandated to work from home full-time by their employers during the outbreak, despite over half (52%) of them expressing a preference to do so.
The research, which polled 1,000 office workers across the country, has exposed a significant disparity between the concrete action taken by employers amid the outbreak and employee desire for measures to be taken swiftly.
Of those polled, only just over one third (37%) of respondents believe their employers are ready for compulsory home working. Less than half (41%) of employees are confident that their employer has the technology infrastructure in place to enable them to work productively and securely from home.
Almost half of office workers (44%) are still expected to work from the office as normal, with less than one fifth (18%) having the flexibility to work from home voluntarily as things stand.
Awareness of employers’ plans is also still very low, with just over one quarter (27%) of office workers having been fully briefed on their company’s home working plan (should the change be mandated by the government) and 40% having not been briefed whatsoever.
It isn’t surprising employers are playing catch-up given the extraordinary circumstances, but it is unfortunate given the feelings of employees. The technology now exists to seamlessly enable home working and organisations that operate entirely remote models can be as productive and secure as those working in a traditional office set-up.
Employers with engaged workforces shouldn’t have any concerns about empowering their teams to work from home full-time during the coronavirus outbreak. Establishing a clear action plan for home working with immediate effect should be priority number one to ensure employees concerns are taken seriously and disruption to work productivity is minimised.
Ultimately, we might see this scenario act as a catalyst for employers to allow more flexible working in future, given they’ll have adapted their capabilities to enable this now.
What’s clear after the Prime Minister’s address today, however, is that our country needs us to act on remote working faster than it has ever done before.