Last reviewed 21 August 2020

With major firms including PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Schroders saying that they will allow the majority of staff to continue to work from home after the pandemic, the Government’s call to return to the workplace may go unheeded, for a while at least.

However, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned that a reliable mobile phone signal will be crucial to further plans for remote working.

Research it has carried out in partnership with Mobile UK has underlined the importance of good quality mobile coverage to enable firms to restart and maintain operations successfully.

The two organisations are calling on the Government to work with industry leaders to bring forward urgently plans that will remove unnecessary barriers to improving coverage and enhancing data capacity.

BCC Co-Executive Director Claire Walker said: “With a majority of firms expecting to continue working from home for the foreseeable future, and fewer employees commuting to city centres, it will be critical to accelerate solutions to improving areas with partial or no coverage to ensure that no business is left behind.”

The survey found that over two-thirds of firms have increased the usage of activities that utilise mobile networks while nearly 80% of respondents expect to either maintain or increase their lockdown levels of mobile-network usage over the next 12 months.

“Our research highlights the real opportunity for Government to work with industry leaders and remove unnecessary barriers to upgrading vital infrastructure that can truly level up all regions of the UK,” Ms Walker said.

Comment by Alastair Brown, Chief Technological Officer at BrightHR

Although the Prime Minister has expressed a preference for office working, he has given employers more discretion in deciding where their employees should work.

Some employers may find it easier to offer fast internet connections in the office than relying on staff to provide their own. Still, for those who are dependent on the latter, they will be eager to see how the Government reacts to these findings.

It may be that employers need to re-evaluate homeworking measures if staff are struggling to work from home effectively as it is uncertain, as of now, what the Government will do with this information.