City employees expect to spend more time working from home

A new survey shows the majority of City workers expect homeworking to increase after lockdown.

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The majority of City workers expect to spend more time working from home after the lockdown has ended, according to a poll by Deloitte.

The poll of 500 workers, who live in London and the UK home counties, found that more than 75% of financial services workers believe that they will work remotely at least one day a week after the restrictions end, up from 41% previously.

Only 10% of respondents said they had had a negative experience operating remotely, while 70% said it had been positive.

When asked what made the experience positive, more than three quarters (76%) cited not having to commute as the top reason. This was followed by having more flexibility (43%), being able to spend more time with the family (39%) and having more time to exercise (28%). More than a third (36%) stated their wellbeing has improved during lockdown, against just under a quarter (24%) who said it has worsened.

Of those who rated the experience as negative, over half (51%) suggested it was due to having less in-person interactions, followed by to the challenges of maintain a work-life balance (41%).

Additionally, more than three quarters (76%) of respondents felt they are as or more productive working from home during the lockdown. This is largely due to less time commuting to and from work (72%), followed by fewer distractions (54%) and a quieter working environment (52%).

When asked what might improve their remote working experience in the future, almost half of those surveyed (44%) said wellbeing tools – such as reminders to take breaks – would help. Other support for remote workers was also an issue. Fewer than half (45%) have and use online video applications, just over a third (35%) use wellbeing tools and less than a third (30%) get training on how to use new technology from home.

Richard Hammell of Deloitte said: “The City will need to use this experience to reconsider the employee proposition that underpins the financial services industries. Far from being the death of the City, it’s a chance to shape it for the future.”

The poll came as the lockdown continues to ease, with Boris Johnson confirming that all non-essential retailers will be able to reopen in England from June 15th.

A later poll of more than 200 financial services firms by EY found two-thirds say they think the workplace will fundamentally change after the pandemic, while 30% expect moderate change. Some 87% said that working from home during lockdown will prompt firms to adapt their technology faster than anticipated. The report also saw 99% of respondents say their employees are working “productively and effectively”.

Meanwhile, another survey from Germany shows employees who work from home are unlikely to be less innovative.

The study, conducted by professors Marina Schröder and Bernd Irlenbusch from the University of Cologne and the Leibniz University Hannover, found that video conferencing among team members can compensate for possible negative effects on innovation when employees work remotely from each other.

“Previous research has shown that creative performance is significantly lower when there is no face-to-face communication. However, the current lockdown has fostered the adoption of new technologies to conduct collaborative tasks when team members work from home. Video conferencing can mitigate the gap in creative performance,” says Professor Irlenbusch.

The study compared face-to-face communication, video conferencing and communicating over chat to see how remote working affects creative performance.

It shows that communicating over “chat” significantly reduced the number of extremely innovative ideas resulting in product breakthroughs. But there was no difference between face-to-face communication and video conferencing.

“Innovation is rarely an individual task, it often needs team collaboration, which can be affected greatly by the current circumstances of everyone working remotely. Organisations need to enable their employees to communicate with the right media to get the best out of them,” says Professor Irlenbusch.

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