Remote working
Image Source: Bonnie Kittle

41% of UK businesses still don't encourage remote working as coronavirus takes hold

With the coronavirus outbreak dubbed the ‘world’s largest work-from-home experiment’, collaboration and communication technology specialist 8x8 recently undertook a survey of 1,000 UK full-time employees to see if businesses are prepared for remote working in the wake of this crisis.

Currently, coronavirus has impacted the working practices of a third (36%) of the UK workforce with 2 in 5 of those affected cancelling travel and event plans. With remote working and self-isolation imminent, more than half (58%) of businesses are offering remote working initiatives, yet nearly a fifth (17%) still have not supplied their employees with the devices to do so.

Further to this, 41% of companies have no remote working policy in place - 26% of workers say their business does not encourage working from home - while 15% do not offer remote working at all.

The results highlight that these companies are at high risk of lost revenue and productivity as they have no remote working policies in place.

Over half (57%) of respondents reported that their business had previously been impacted by a major crisis, and as a result, three quarters (75%) of these have created a contingency plan, which includes remote working.

This still leaves a quarter (25%) with no crisis policy in place. Businesses without a plan to enable remote working are now at a higher risk of reduced productivity, while they quickly fast-track a contingency plan for if, or more likely when, remote working is enforced.

Other key findings include: • 63% of businesses feel coronavirus has yet to make an impact. • 40% of respondents working for enterprises stated they have never been affected by a major crisis before. • 30% of companies that have a contingency plan will bring in a medical professional. • Surprisingly companies with 500-1,000 employees were more likely to offer remote working (60%) than enterprises with over 1,000 employees (55%). • Three quarters (70%) of respondents said they are confident in their ability to work remotely. • Smaller businesses with 50 employees or less (42%) are less likely to have a video conferencing solution in place, however, there is a significant jump in the adoption of video conferencing tools for companies that have 500 plus employees (64%).

8x8 has issued the following guidance for businesses continuity planning: • For those businesses that typically do not offer remote working, now is the time to review operations and see how rapidly you can create an effective remote working policy. • It’s critical that businesses develop an effective crisis plan, mapping out all remote working tools available to employees and provide appropriate user training to keep business operations running efficiently. • Employees should be involved in outlining the contingency plan so that in the face of a disaster, so all aspects are considered and there is employee buy-in. • Once processes are in place, run drills to familiarise your employees with the procedures and test the system. • Create a best practice document that will help all employees to remain productive when working from home.

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