Lockdown brought with it the message of - work from home, if you can - and prompted thousands of businesses across the UK to send staff home, to work remotely. This brought both challenge, and opportunity, and for some companies completely changed the way they work.
We were interested to know how businesses adapted to cope with this change from a technology perspective, to consider what role tech played in facilitating these changes, and how businesses both struggled and thrived in the face of adversity.
So we decided to launch a survey, and this is what we found…
Over 70% of those surveyed stated that 75-100% of their workforce worked from home during the first lockdown, but only 11% said that employees had the capability to work from home prior to the pandemic. This led us to believe that businesses must have made some changes to enable this home working to take place. However only 50% admitted to making changes to their IT infrastructure, of which the top three were purchasing hardware (laptops), increasing VPN capacity and upgrading servers.
Another 50% told us that when lockdown 1 ended, they had the same number of employees working from home as they did during the lockdown period, showing that for some businesses, home working played out quite well. Staff could have returned to the office, but didn’t. Indeed, 82% agreed that the productivity of their teams was about the same at home, as it would have been if they were in the office. Only 29% of business leaders surveyed had concerns about productivity.
And of course, some of these businesses had no choice but to send staff home, even during non-lockdown periods, with 69% affected by local lockdowns and 57% affected by employees having to self isolate.
But there were of course, still concerns. 48% were concerned about IT security with one respondent reporting a marked increase in the number of employees engaging with phishing emails whilst working from home, underlining the concern for increased security for home workers. Most of those surveyed were heavily using Microsoft Teams (69%), Zoom (62%) and/or a VPN (62%), and while these platforms and applications offer high levels of security, the concern that being at home could lead to staff letting their guard down when it comes to social engineering scams, needs to be addressed.
Security wasn’t the only concern, however. A massive 82% of respondents admitted to missing elements of office life - the top one being social interaction; and 70% stating that morale was their biggest concern when it comes to a work from home business model. This could be the main driver for the results which showed that only 30% would consider a move to a full remote working model after the pandemic ends, while only 6% would consider a completely officeless environment.
So did the Covid 19 pandemic accelerate digital transformation? Well surprisingly, 73% said no. Reasons given cited that IT infrastructures were already fairly flexible, just not being utilised and that it was more of a transformation of mindset, changing the way in which teams work and collaborate. Of the 27% that said that the pandemic did in fact accelerate a digital transformation in their businesses, changes included migrations to Microsoft Teams, moving on-premise IT to data centre environments and the switch to paperless office.