A new study conducted by O2, in partnership with ICM and YouGov, has found that 45% of the British workforce expects there to be a permanent change in their company’s approach to flexible working after the lockdown ends. On the flip side, it found that people are still getting used to the new social dynamics with 30% saying it’s lonely working from home and 26% missing socialising informally with colleagues.
Commenting on O2’s findings, Dr Heejung Chung, Reader in Sociology and Social Policy Director at the University of Kent, who is researching flexible hours, said:
“It will be difficult to go back to normal ways of working after lockdown, as we’ve now proven that most of us can work from home – despite many companies previously telling employees that it wouldn’t be possible.”
The study found that half of employees believe flexible working will increase. A third of people said they expected to work from home at least three days per week while 81% expect to work from home at least one day a week. The study also found that people could begin living further away from their workplace as home working increases. Currently, most people live 30 minutes from work but this could increase to 60 minutes according to respondents’ data. O2 said that this could increase business competition as they seek to find the best workers and retain them.
Despite employees wishes to work from home, it will ultimately be the decision of the employers, it’ll be interesting to see in the next months and years whether the coronavirus acted as a catalyst for home working, a concept that has been discussed for years already and introduced in a limited capacity. It’ll also be interesting to see if the urban-rural population will become more balanced and whether road trips decrease as a result of home working.