In the UK, there has been a notable trend towards remote working for over a decade, and particularly in the last two years. The lockdown imposed on March 23rd to contain the impact of COVID-19 has hit fast-forward on this trend in many industries where jobs can be continued at home.
Focusing on three key impacts of that fast-forwarding, this case study will show what the main drivers of the remote working trend were pre-pandemic, and what they will look like in a post-pandemic world. The report shows that, following the radical catalytic event of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for remote working will come from both workers and business leaders.
1. ONS labor market data shows that there has been an upward trend in remote working during the last two years, and projections based on that data suggest a substantial increase in Q1 2020. Once COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted, the driving factors behind sustained higher levels of remote working will look quite different. The pressure to take up flexible working at home will come partly from employees returning from lockdown, but will mainly be due to the opportunities entailed for businesses.
2. Operational efficiency through remote working is one of the most salient, if least tangible, opportunities for businesses. Provided it is deployed at scale, both large and small businesses alike will also benefit from reduced real estate costs. In addition, multiple factors will serve to increase pressure on businesses to meet carbon budgets though these practices.
3. There will also be opportunities for apps and services, particularly in the Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) market. Like the opportunities for their clients in the wider business world, these will accelerate the transition, mainly by driving competitive innovation from the leading players. Homeworking has always been the most popular form of remote working among those who choose it. This will change when the benefits of remote working to employers becomes a major driver and the practice becomes elective to a lesser extent. When it does, co-working spaces will find the demand for their services growing, and this will be another major opportunity of the trend going forwards.
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