Is homeworking here to stay?

16 October 2020

The short answer to the question in the headline is “yes”, at least according to the Institute of Directors (IoD).

Its September survey of nearly 1000 company directors found that 74% would be keeping increased homeworking after the coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, more than half of those questioned said that their organisation intended to reduce their long-term use of workplaces with more than one in five agreeing that their usage would be significantly lower.

The IoD discovered that business leaders had been making a number of other adjustments during the pandemic that they intended to keep in place. Almost half had embraced greater use of flexible working, such as compressed hours, while over a fifth had moved a service they provided online.

Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the IoD, said: “Remote working has been one of the most tangible impacts of coronavirus on the economy. For many, it could be here to stay.”

However, he went on, working from home does not work for everyone and directors must be alive to the downsides. Managing teams remotely can prove far from straightforward, Mr Barker argued, and directors must make sure they are going out of their way to support employees’ mental wellbeing.

The Institute also argued that the Government should take a number of steps to help SMEs and the economy adapt to increased homeworking.

It believes that SME tax incentives should be improved, enabling more small firms to harness new digital technologies and bolster the productivity of homeworking. This could be achieved by expanding the scope of R&D tax reliefs.

The IoD also argues that lower employment costs would encourage job creation among businesses and help more firms retain staff. This could be done by increasing the Employment Allowance or raising the threshold for paying National Insurance contributions.

Comment from BrightHR’s CEO Alan Price

Across the UK, government guidance has been for employers to allow their staff to work from home where they can.

Specifically in England, government advice has been clear. The Prime Minister has advised employers to not only allow those who can work from home to do so, but also that those who would benefit from working in the office, as a result of mental health issues, should be allowed to do so too.

This has given employers in England a lot of leeway as to where staff can work but it has also allowed them to consider staff more closely.