When the COVID-19 first hit the UK, nobody was able to predict the sudden changes that so rapidly became the “new normal”.
In little over six weeks, the pandemic radically changed lives. What were once diverse high streets have now been replaced with queues for supermarkets (two meters apart, of course). Bustling commuter trains are no longer bustling, and the packed social calendar, once filled with exciting dinners, parties, and birthdays,
One of the biggest changes has been to the way in which we work. Overnight the country was shut down, and many businesses and employees were suddenly working from home. Just like that, we came to rely on technology and mobile connectivity to work in a way that many wouldn’t have considered possible before.
Today O2 Business unveiled research to help businesses understand the impact COVID-19 is having on the workforce. The Flexible Future of Work, indicates that employees will be reluctant to give up their new way of working when the lockdown is lifted. Nearly half (45%) of the workforce believe that flexible working will increase permanently, and a third (33%) expect to increase the amount they work from home by at least three days a week.
Once perceived as a bonus, flexible working is now considered the most important workplace benefit employees consider when taking a new role.
Set against this context, digital infrastructure and connectivity have surpassed physical infrastructure in terms of their importance to the business. The value and possibilities of technology and mobile connectivity have never been so evident.
The government has set out its plan for coming out of the lockdown. In some instances, those unable to work from home are now being encouraged to return to work, avoiding public transport where possible. For many though, there remains ongoing speculation about what the world of work will look like in the future, and the government is advising people to prepare for a new type of normal.
While it’s difficult to gauge what the future working world will look like, we are seeing that the demand for flexible working beyond the pandemic is accelerating. We understand the challenges faced by employers and the increasing pressure for businesses to keep their workforce connected. The needs of an enterprise are undoubtedly shifting towards elevating employee engagement and digital connectivity; in the light of these changes, the need for physical office space now carries much less importance than it once did.