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Coronavirus: Half of managers say workers are more productive at home

Remote working has surged. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

More than two-thirds of business owners and managers alike believe remote working is “the future” for their organisations even after the coronavirus lockdown eases, a survey suggests.

A survey of more than 1,000 UK office workers by Hoxby, a virtual agency and consultancy firm, also suggests managers have been pleasantly surprised by teams’ performance from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 52% of leaders said workers had even been more productive than in the office.

Almost two-thirds of all workers surveyed said they were enjoying working remotely as they could spend more time with their family. The figure was even higher for those with young children at 72%.

Fewer than one in 10 employees was unhappy working from home, and just 19% said they preferred being in the office. 

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Office culture appears to have survived in many teams despite working remotely. More than half of managers said it was as strong as ever, with office chatter continuing in a different form.

Most in managerial roles also said remote working was good for mental health, though only 14% acknowledged any negative effects, according to Hoxby.

“In the past, we’ve seen a great degree of fear and misunderstanding about what flexible and remote working means,” said Hoxby co-founder Lizzie Penny.

“These findings should make really welcome reading for all. Changing working practices is about putting people, their lives, their work, their mental health, all of these things centre stage.”

A quarter of office workers expected to continue to remote work at least half the time after the pandemic is over, and 12% believed they would be working entirely remotely.

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This was reflected in the views of 70% of business owners and 78% of senior managers who said remote working was “the future” for their organisations.

A third of leaders said they were considering moving to an entirely remote office, and 42% of business owners said they were looking to reduce office space. Half of managers said they would encourage more remote working, but most said employees would still have to keep to similar office working patterns at home.

Hoxby’s other co-founder Alex Hirst added: “As we’ve seen office workers catapulted to remote working in what is surely the biggest ever remote working experiment, it is fantastic to see productivity and positivity levels so high.

“We know office life has changed for good, and a post COVID world will see many remote working practices here to stay as whole organisations shift their businesses remotely.”