Smart Transport

"Remote working here to stay", says Institute of Directors

Nearly three quarters of business leaders in the UK said they would keep increased levels of remote working after Covid-19, according to a new Institute of Directors survey.

In a survey of almost 1,000 company directors conducted last month, more than half of those polled also said their organisation intended to reduce their long-term use of workplaces.

More than one in five reported their usage would be significantly lower.

This could have a dramatic impact on public transport use by commuters and reaffirms that transport and mobility useage will be forever changed by the pandemic.

Even a blended approach of increased remote working and time in the office will need the transport industry to react with more flexible fares and increased use of intelligent data to predict demand.

Among those who had been using their workplace less before the change in Government recommendation last month, more than four in 10 said that working from home was proving more effective than their previous set-up.

Business leaders surveyed had been making a number of other adjustments during the pandemic that they intended to keep in place.

A further 43% had embraced greater use of flexible working such as compressed hours, while over a fifth had moved a service they provided online.

Roger Barker, director of policy at the IoD, said: “Remote working has been one of the most tangible impacts of coronavirus on the economy. For many, it could be here to stay.

“Working from home isn't for everyone, and directors must be aware of the downsides.

"Managing teams remotely can prove far from straightforward, and directors must make sure they are going out of their way to support employees’ mental wellbeing."

Barker also said that any remote-working set-up is only as good as the technology that enables it.

He said that alongside continued investment in digital infrastructure, the Government should give small firms the headroom to invest in the latest equipment and software. The restrictions have spurred significant innovation, but low revenues and high costs could put a lid on this.

Barker said: “The benefits of the office haven’t gone away.

"For many companies, bringing teams together in person proves more productive and enjoyable.

"A shared workspace often provides employees the opportunity for informal development and networking that is so crucial, particularly early on in a career.

“Looking ahead, it seems more and more companies will take a blended approach to where they work.

"Any transition can cause challenges, and the Government should look to ease this.

"In the long run, greater flexibility could benefit both business and worker alike.

"However, it's crucial that the legal and economic implications of this change are grappled with from the start.”

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