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3 in 4 businesses considering post Covid-19 ‘meet up’ spaces rather than full time offices

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3 in 4 managers in UK businesses feel that ‘collaborative’ workspaces are now more suitable for their post-lockdown business models when compared to a full time staffed office, according to a new survey.

The study for Onecom, the UK’s largest independent business telecommunications provider, polled 1,000 UK managers in late August and found that 77% agreed that more causal workspaces designed to facilitate meetings and collaborative working (such as a coworking space) would have significant advantages for their business over a full time, staffed office.

Just 7% of managers disagreed that they could see the benefits of a collaborative workspace over a fulltime office. The study comes as many businesses are making tough decisions about how their teams will operate in the future due to social distancing and the changed economic landscape.

The study also surveyed another 1,000 general workers at UK businesses to find out how employees have been coping with working at home through the pandemic. 56% said that the way in which their work teams operate has now ‘changed forever’ due to the Coronavirus, suggesting that many workers may now be expecting their work arrangements to change for good, even once a vaccine has been found and further restrictions lifted.

“There has been a move towards more flexible and collaborative working for many years now, however it’s clear to see from this study that the impact of the Coronavirus and the lockdown has sped up this process exponentially. Many of the managers that we work with, who were perhaps a bit apprehensive about what it would be like to manage employees remotely, are telling us that they’ve found working from home remarkably easy and enriching for their teams. The real thing that people are missing is the face-to-face interaction and many businesses are now waking up to the fact that you don’t necessarily need a full time office for that,” said Helen Myers, Onecom’s operations director.

Are millennial managers more likely to support ditching a full time office?

Support for collaborative workspaces over full time offices is widespread across the age groups, however the study found that Millennial and late Gen Z managers are up to 27% more likely than Baby Boomers and managers from older generations to support ditching the office for a more modern way of working.

Which parts of the UK are most keen on collaborative workspaces?

The study shows that support for collaborative workspaces over a fulltime office is strong among managers across the United Kingdom but is most keenly felt in London, where 85% agreed with this statement. Interestingly, managers in Northern Ireland (63%) and Wales (65%) are somewhat less likely than the national average to see the benefits.

How have UK employees found working from home during the pandemic?

Productivity

65% of respondents in Onecom’s poll of 1,000 workers at UK businesses said that their productivity had been impacted while working from home during the pandemic. 39% said that their level of productivity at work had decreased, while 28% believed that it had increased.

Skillsets

The majority of workers said that they have used their problem solving (73%), negotiation (66%), people management (60%) and communications skills (58%) more often or at the same level since working from home due to Covid-19. Many also believe that their problem solving (30%) and negotiation (24%) skills have improved overall. A significant number of workers believe that their communications (37%) and people management (29%) skills have decreased.

Technology challenges

86% of the 1,000 workers polled said that they have faced significant technology or communications challenges at least once when trying to maintain ‘business as normal’ while working from home.

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