South: Working from home impacting SME productivity

The productivity of 67% of the UK’s workforce is being impacted by working from home and the coronavirus, concludes a new poll for a report for Hampshire-based Onecom, the UK’s largest independent business telecoms provider.

With millions still working from home, the study investigated the impact of the virus and remote working on businesses and surveyed 1,000 workers at UK small and medium-sized businesses who have worked from home since the lockdown was announced.

Of those in the study that have been affected by the lockdown, 39% said that their level of productivity at work had decreased, while 28% believed that it had increased. Another 28% said that their productivity had been unaffected by the coronavirus or the lockdown altogether. The same study also found a similar pattern in how motivated workers felt. 42% said that they have felt less motivated while working at home, while 25% felt more motivated. 29% said that there had been no change in how motivated they felt.

86% of workers in the study have also needed to overcome significant technology and communications challenges to maintain ‘business as normal’ and 56% of the workers in the study also said that the way their work team operates has ‘changed forever’ as a result of the coronavirus.

Despite the change in levels of productivity, the study also found that 83% of the sample are using technology (such as business mobiles and laptops) more often than they were before. Use of emails, telephone, video conferencing, social media and web-based research tasks have all increased since the lockdown.

Around one in four are also using social media for personal reasons more often during the workday.

“While there is a significant minority who feel less productive because of working from home, 56% have actually seen no impact or a positive effect. What this means in practice is that working from home has a splintering effect on the productivity of workforces, with most benefiting or seeing no difference and a minority of people struggling with the lack of face time or not being in the office.

“Identifying and managing that minority presents a challenge for managers, however the findings of this report really highlight how important it is for work teams to continue utilising technology to stay in touch – not just via email, but also through video and audio conferencing too,” said Helen Myers, Onecom’s operations director.