A survey from the British Council for Offices (BCO) has found that the Covid-19 pandemic has permanently changed the way in which we work. The results of the survey of 2000 office workers, reported by the Guardian, have shown that employees of all levels see working from home as a long term change.

Executives and trainees alike have expressed an intention or hope to split their time between home and the workplace in the future, with most looking to spend 2-3 days in the office with 2-3 days working from home. The survey found that 62% of executives and 58% of entry level workers wish to adopt this blended pattern.

This is reflected in the approach that many businesses are taking to their workplace planning. A survey carried out by the Institute of Directors  found that three quarters of the Directors surveyed anticipated more home working in the future.

Whilst the prospect of long term working from home arrangements are attractive in many aspects (workers may find they have more time on their hands or can work more flexibly, are more productive, and save money on travel) it is not a prospect that works for everyone. We are seeing more and more commentary on the downsides and challenges of remote working.

The impact that working from home has on employee learning and development is a particular concern. BCO’s chief executive, Richard Kauntze,  highlighted that junior employees are missing out on training and guidance they would usually receive from their senior colleagues, and may not have the same opportunities to build their personal networks.

Many employees do not have a quiet space to work from home, nor a suitable physical workstation or appropriate equipment, which impacts their physical health and ability to carry out their role. In addition, the loss of face to face interaction, opportunity to socialise, having a comfortable workplace and being able to leave work 'at the office' also poses a threat to employee mental wellbeing. 

Following the Prime Minister's announcement that the new restrictions could potentially last six months, employers will need to consider their long term management of a split workforce, as well as navigating the 'unintended consequences' of the shift towards working from home.

For a discussion on these issues in view of the impact of the government U turn on working from home, as well as closer look at the new government Job Support Scheme, join our 'People and Pandemic: A U-turn on returning to work and the new Job Support Scheme'  panel session tomorrow morning (7.10.2020), where Charlotte Fisher, Rebecca Butler , Anna Byford and David Williams will explore both in more detail. To register follow the link here.