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The number of roles that allowed for remote working tripled in 2020 and companies were more open to the idea of letting employees work from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, new data revealed.
In November last year, about 80,700 jobs allowing remote working were advertised, a big jump from 26,600 in November 2019, recruiters New Street Consulting Group said.
It remains unclear if these jobs will continue to offer remote working once restrictions ease and offices open up.
Official data showed 547,000 job vacancies in Britain in the three months to November, down almost a third on a year earlier.
“There has been a trend in recent years to invest more in the workplace, to make it somewhere where staff would want to spend time. It will be quite a revolution if that trend doesn’t eventually reassert itself,” said Natalie Douglass, a director at New Street Consulting Group.
“However, we are certainly going to see a more hybrid workforce with working from home an option for at least some of their staff,” she added.
While working remotely does go a long way in exposing employees to the coronavirus, it does come with its set of challenges.
For instance, between 6 and 14 January, the Health and Safety Executive said it received 2,945 complaints about workplaces not complying to all COVID-19 related safety measures.
Meanwhile, research suggests mental health concerns and lack of productivity are the top challenges faced by small-to-medium enterprise employees working from home, research suggests.
Workers cited mental health (45%), safety in the physical workplace (37%) and being able to work effectively under lockdown restrictions (35%) as their top three concerns while working from home.
And a study by polling firm Survation for the Woolf Institute — which researches interfaith relations — said working from home could lead to a rise in racism and prejudice. It said workplace friendships are vital to breaking down misconceptions and that more people are at risk of going “ back into isolated silos” when working from home.
Back in September, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed one in 5 people (20%) in Britain were working from home full-time while some 57% of employees were commuting to their place of work.
The news came as Boris Johnson pushed for more people to get back to the office to help save city centre economies and prevent a collapse in the commercial property market. However, this was before restrictions became tighter and a third national lockdown was put in place as COVID-19 cases rose, highlighting the uncertainty around when offices will reopen.
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