Working from home the ‘new normal’?
Working from home is receiving unprecedented attention due to the current coronavirus crisis. But will there be a ‘new normal’ for working after the crisis? According to a survey commissioned by Citrix, 65 per cent of UK office workers currently working from home due to the virus outbreak believe logging on remotely from home will become more common once the Coronavirus crisis abates.
Citrix and OnePoll carried out this survey of 1,000 UK office workers between 23rd – 26th March 2020, with the research also taking place in Germany, France, Italy and Australia.
Working from home was a relatively widespread practice in the UK even before working remotely was enforced to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. In fact, the UK was ahead of the global curve. Almost half (45%) of UK office workers worked from home regularly – as least once a week – before the Coronavirus outbreak, closely followed by 43% of German respondents.
However, this is the case for just 26 per cent of French respondents and 22 per cent of Italian respondents. According to UK office workers, the biggest advantages to working from home are being able to productively use the time that they normally spend on commuting (39%) and reduced stress due to lack of commute (35%).
While more UK staff worked from home on a regular basis than their counterparts in Europe, they are not as well positioned with a suitable workspace. Just 41% of UK employees work from a dedicated home office space when working from home, compared to 57% of their peers in Germany.
However, UK home workers are able to maintain their balance between work and leisure when working from home: almost two fifths (38%) of UK respondents work roughly as long at home as they do in the office. Less than a third (30%) work longer when at home.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) also say that their productivity at home is the same or even higher than it is in the office. The two biggest factors at the moment affecting productivity amongst UK employees working from home are distractions due to the home environment, such as children and pets, (42%) and distance from or lack of communication with colleagues (42%).
Technology remains the key to productivity
The two factors cited as most important for driving greater productivity amongst UK home workers are a suitable working environment, such as a separate workplace at home (49%) and using a single-sign-on solution or workspace to avoid logging on separately to every tool (28%).
While employers have very little influence on creating suitable working spaces at home, employers can provide employees with relevant, modern technologies that enable easy communication between colleagues and streamlined work processes. Despite this, many staff are finding that they are not yet equipped with the technology they need for remote working: 55% of those surveyed stated that they are currently using applications they normally only use outside of work (such as WhatsApp, Dropbox and Gmail) to assist with home working.
However, applications designed for consumer use cases may not meet the security standards required for business-critical data. To prevent staff relying on these apps, companies should provide suitable technologies themselves to create secure remote work environments.
“Employers need to provide their staff with the necessary technology to work flexibly with access to intuitive, user-friendly systems that enable – rather than hamper – collaboration and productivity, whether in the office or working from their kitchen table,” said Darren Fields, Vice President UK & Ireland, Citrix.
“The home office will become an integral part of the British work culture, with widespread adoption in future rather than the company or industry-specific approaches to remote working we have seen to date. Today’s global health crisis shows that enabling remote working is the right way forward. Every office worker who can currently work from home is able to not only do their job, but also support society as a whole to help us to navigate this crisis and reach the best possible outcome as quickly as possible,” concluded Fields.