The global Covid-19 pandemic has unquestionably forced changes in the way people work. Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint specialists Silicon Reef took a deep dive into employee attitudes to how they are working – both now and in the future – and uncovered a widespread appetite for greater flexibility. Alongside, however, is a worrying indication that the tools needed to support remote working in the long term are seriously lacking.
As an agency specialising in Microsoft-based transformation solutions, Silicon Reef have long supported companies as they transition into more flexible, more productive and happier ways of working. Conscious of how traditional ways of working have been holding back most UK businesses from achieving optimum engagement and results, we saw the positive opportunity that the pandemic created for fundamental, widespread change to working practices. But, we wanted to find out, was this change sustainable, and what was the appetite for making remote working a long-term proposition?
Silicon Reef commissioned a UK-wide survey of 1,000 respondents across a broad spectrum of age and income levels and asked 15 simple but probing questions based on attitudes and tools to work pre- and post- pandemic.
The survey returned a vital insight into the attitudes and capacities of UK businesses to working remotely or from home.
Results showed that, before the pandemic took hold, just 8% of the workforce had the flexibility to work remotely or from home when they wished and a staggering 61% was either not allowed to work from home at all, or rarely permitted. Since lockdown measures came into play, and employers were forced to support their workforce carrying out their roles from home, the respondents have welcomed the change with 70% claiming that it has been like normal or (62%) saying it has been good or even better than before.
As massive advocators of flexible working, and of businesses providing employees with the tools and support to create their own work/life balance, maximise engagement and increasing productivity – a concept they have termed ‘Work Happy’ – Silicon Reef were pleased to finally see a step change in this area, although the reason for the immediate shift due to the pandemic was terrible. Now, 73% of respondents feel supported by their company in working from home and 80% are maintaining positive relationships with their manager or colleagues.
“This is all excellent news,” says Silicon Reef Co-Founder and Managing Director Alex Graves, “but we were interested in how sustainable this new way of working was for the majority.”
“Most significantly in our survey 55% of respondents state that they don’t want to return to previous ways of working, and 87% overall want to continue with the flexibility to work from home. Our experience tells us that organisations need to adapt fully to enable this change and empower their workforce – transformation is required across tech, training, communication, visibility and employee recognition.”
To measure this readiness the survey looked at the practical side of working remotely, finding that 33% of employees did not have the tools or technology in place to work effectively and a further 38% were claiming they were merely ‘just about ok’. That’s 71% needing an improvement in tools and tech to enable sustained, effective remote working in the long term.
“2020 has been a year of immense change – across the world, and in all aspects of our lives” Alex continues. “Our research shows us that there is a tremendous opportunity to make that a change for the better in the way that we all work, as long as businesses are willing to acknowledge that they need to provide a different, more sustainable infrastructure.”
“Silicon Reef truly believe that businesses willing to adapt and embrace a Work Happy culture will reap the benefits of improved employee engagement, and unlimited productivity. Our work with SharePoint and Microsoft 365 tools has shown us that this change can be relatively painless and is highly rewarding. Most importantly, by transitioning to a new way of working, businesses are also preparing themselves to embed flexibility and resilience for whatever the future has in store for us all!”