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Workers on lockdown

UK office workers prove they are not remotely fazed by lockdown

New research reveals productivity, happiness and office culture are booming with the shape of the office set to change forever

Good news from UK ‘offices’, as new research reveals office workers are not remotely fazed by remote working. Productivity whilst in lockdown has ‘surprised’ almost three quarters (71%) of office bosses, with more than half (54%) admitting they were nervous about their teams remote working before the COVID-19 pandemic. And over half (52%) say their teams are MORE productive remote working than in an office.

The research, conducted by Hoxby, a virtual agency and consultants on the future of work as well as Marketing, PR, HR, Innovation, Creative and Admin, is welcome news, as lockdown measures look set to continue indefinitely. In fact 69% of office workers expect some form of lockdown/remote working for at least the next three months and 59% for the next six months.

Effective working: 71% of office workers think their employer is well set up for remote working. Almost two-thirds (58%) say remote working provides them with more autonomy to do their job in a way that suits them, rising to 63% of those in a managerial position. And only 19% say they prefer being in the office.

Happiness: 57% of those in a management position think remote working is GOOD for mental health, with only 14% recognising any negative effects. Two-thirds (65%) of office workers agree that though the current situation is challenging in other ways, they are enjoying the fact that remote work means they can spend more time with their family, rising to 72% of those with young children. Only 8% of office workers say teams seem unhappy as a result of remote working.

Office Culture: Over half (55%) of office managers say office culture is as strong as ever, with a similar proportion saying office chatter has continued just in a different form (57%). Only 18% of office workers remote working have seen any negative impact on office culture.

The future is now
And the shape of office life really will change forever after the pandemic is over. A quarter of office workers (25%) believe they’ll remote work at least half the time after the outbreak, compared with just 10% before and 12% of the office workforce say they’ll be working ENTIRELY remotely after the outbreak, compared to just 4% before.

Before the pandemic, 45% of office workers surveyed were required to be in the office ‘at all times’. This is expected to fall to just 27%.

So just how might UK offices change shape?
70% of business owners and 78% of senior management agree that ‘remote working is the future of my organisation’, with this period of lockdown and remote working making them view the future structure of their business differently.

42% of business owners plan to reduce the amount of office space they need. 49% of management think they’ll encourage more remote working. And 34% of business owners are considering moving to an entirely remote office.

Remote working can still be fine-tuned
However some tweaks to remote working practices would be welcomed. 48% of office workers currently working remotely admit they’re relying on conference calls too much and would like to know more about other working practices rising to 63% amongst business leaders. (44%) of remote working office workers even admit to being on conference calls for ‘most of the day’, 54% of those in a management position.

Business owners are also more likely to think their set-up is a good one (82%) vs 66% of Entry level employees, showing more support is needed to set junior team members up for success.

Stuck in a rigid 9-5
Although a better work life balance has been felt during lockdown as a result of remote working, there does still seem to be a rigidity around the 9-5. 77% of business leaders expect their teams to work similar hours (e.g. 9-5) to before. In fact only 12% of those in a management position are trying to buck the 9-5 trend for their teams, with a similarly low proportion able to escape these shackles of presenteeism themselves. Perhaps no surprise given that 34% of senior management said remote working was something they always wanted to do more of before the pandemic, but felt they should be ‘seen’ to be in the office.

Free of any offices, Hoxby uses technology to connect more than 1,000 freelancers across 43 different countries. Current clients include Unilever, Merck, AIA, Amazon and Warner Bros. Hoxby Co-Founders Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst have been on a mission to quickly use their expertise in the remote working space to help other organisations and individuals by encouraging industry to share their expertise and advice under the #remoteagainstcoronavirus banner.

Penny comments: “In the past, we’ve seen a great degree of fear and misunderstanding about what flexible and remote working means. These findings should make really welcome reading for all. Changing working practices is about putting people, their lives, their work, their mental health, all of these things centre stage. I’m thrilled to have seen such positive outcomes after five weeks of lockdown and truly hope remote working becomes a big part of every organisation’s future.”

“It’s great to see the world leaving the industrial age behind and adopting digital age working methods. We’ve long thought remote working is better for society, for business and for people, and these findings are music to our ears,” continues Hoxby co-Founder Alex Hirst. “We’ve been banging the workstyle drum for five years now, and with a team of 1,000 freelancers over 43 countries without an office we know it can improve diversity, productivity and wellbeing. However for office workers at large, bad office habits seem to be creeping in with the ‘death by conference call phenomenon’ and ‘coat on the back of the chair’ expectations of presenteeism. Organisations need to keep a watch on remote working practices and evolve and better them by gaining a deeper understanding of technology and virtual leadership. All components that make Hoxby super agile in a remote working landscape.”

Hoxby co-Founder Alex Hirst concludes: “As we’ve seen office workers catapulted to remote working in what is surely the biggest ever remote working experiment, it is fantastic to see productivity and positivity levels so high. We know office life has changed for good, and a post COVID world will see many remote working practices here to stay as whole organisations shift their businesses remotely. Our collective job as business leaders and remote workers alike is to ensure, as a community, we share what is working (and what isn’t), to fine tune remote ways of working for all. I’m excited for our working future.”

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