When Will We Return To The Office?

The 2020 coronavirus outbreak has had an unprecedented impact on the way we live our lives. The world of work is no exception. Key workers have continued working, with stricter hygiene and distancing measures in place wherever possible, while 8.4 million people were put on the UK Government’s furlough scheme.

However, one of the biggest trends of the lockdown world has been remote working. By the end of 2019, just 1.7 million people worked mainly from home in the UK. In the USA, it was 4.7 million – or 3.4% of the population.

Since the Government imposed stricter lockdown measures at the end of March, that number has skyrocketed. In the UK for example, approximately 60% of the UK’s working population were working from home.

Remote working has allowed millions of people to continue working – and countless businesses to continue operating – while still following Government advice to stay home. As lockdown measures are slowly lifted, people will undoubtedly start returning to the office – but when is the best time to make the move? And do we need to return at all?

Safe to return

The first factor in returning to the office is no doubt whether it’s safe to do so. With scientific advisers suggesting the Government is lifting lockdown measures prematurely, many staff will understandably be wary about returning to work.

While that’s an unavoidable obstacle for workers in retail and education who will gradually be returning to work from the start of June, there could be a clear solution for those who have been able to carry out their duties from home through the lockdown. Namely, continuing to do so.

Continuing to work remotely

In other words, if it’s possible to continue working remotely and minimise the risk of catching and spreading the virus, why not do it?

As well as slowing the spread of the virus, continuing with remote working allows staff to maintain the better work-life balance they have become accustomed to.

With the right collaboration technology in place, businesses can give staff the benefits of remote working without the need for a drop in productivity. That also has a knock-on effect for attracting and retaining the best talent. 81% of workers agree that remote working makes a job more attractive, while remote workers are 13% more likely to stay at a job than those on site.

Looking further down the line

For companies that have that technology in place, there’s really no need to return to the office while the infection rate is relatively high. But it’s no longer solely about the virus. Having seen the success of remote working, some employers are rethinking how they work long-term.

If remote working is working well, it’s perfectly conceivable for businesses to carry on operating remotely at least until a vaccine is available – if not longer. Facebook has said it plans to shift towards a more remote workforce in future, for instance, while Twitter has told employees they can work from home forever.

That’s echoed by employees, almost half of whom believe remote working will increase after lockdown. According to a report commissioned by O2, a third of UK workers expect to be working from home at least 3 days a week, while a massive 81% anticipate at least a day a week of remote working.

Beyond tech giants

With Twitter and Facebook leading the way, it’s easy to assume that remote working isn’t a practical option for companies that aren’t inherently digital, or those based in multiple countries. Fortunately, that’s not the case.

At Aura, we specialise in facilitating remote working for organisations across the globe in any sector. By implementing collaboration tools, tailored to the requirements of your workforce, we can make remote working not just practical, but highly productive, for your business.

To find out more, arrange a consultation with our collaboration experts.

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