In response to the coronavirus outbreak, remote working has undoubtedly been one of the most significant trends of 2020. Since lockdown began in the UK on the 24th of March, it’s allowed people to continue working – and businesses to continue operating – without putting themselves at risk or accelerating the spread of the virus.
By the end of April 2020, 60% of the UK’s adult population were working from home, compared to around 5% throughout 2019. However, the question now is when that will end. Or, alternatively, could remote working become the new norm?
After two months of lockdown, the Government slowly began to lift lockdown measures towards the end of May. That was welcomed by some, including business that couldn’t operate remotely and have had to furlough staff. Those working in retail, for instance, will be able to gradually return to work in June.
However, it’s also been the subject of criticism from the Government’s scientific advisers, who suggest it may be too early to ease lockdown measures. At the very least, they put forward that the NHS Test and Trace system should be fully working before relaxing measures.
On top of that, there were still an estimated 8,000 cases per day in Mid-May – far more than initial estimates of 1,000 from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
With all of that in mind, many are still cautious about returning to work. While those in retail or education, for example, might not have a choice, there is an alternative for businesses which have allowed remote working through the lockdown. Specifically, continuing to operate remotely.
Until when? In the words of the Prime Minister, “the route back to full normality requires a vaccine.” While lockdown measures can be eased and tightened based on the changing infection rate and number of cases, the clear end to this crisis comes through a readily available vaccine.
One option for businesses is to continue to allow staff to work remotely until that vaccine is found. That avoids any uncertainty or worry about returning to the office before it’s safe.
Another train of thought is simply to shift to a remote working model on a permanent basis. Albeit under adverse circumstances, the current situation has allowed many businesses and their employees to experience the benefits of remote working.
It saves staff time and money from the commute, gives them a better work-life balance and even makes them more productive. 75% of workers said they are more productive due to reduced distractions in a home working environment, for instance. With remote workers 13% more likely to stay at a job – it can even improve staff retention.
A permanent shift is something echoed by staff too. A report by O2, ICM and YouGov found that 81% of UK workers expect a least one day a week working from home in the future, with a third believing their job will be mainly remote (3+ days a week).
It’s clear that remote working will have a role to play for more employees and more businesses going forward – whether it’s one day a week or ditching the office completely. The challenge for businesses is facilitating that shift.
Along with video calling software and project management tools, digital asset management can be a powerful instrument for remote working. It provides your team with a place to store, organise and retrieve files with ease, meaning they’ll always have the right assets, wherever they’re based.