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Build 'work from wherever'. But don't assume 'wherever' works for everyone.

Companies could be facing a period of “work inequality” between the “home office” haves and have-nots.

Key thought:
This is not just about businesses investing in home office equipment for their staff as a business asset, including infrastructure like broadband, to increase long-term productivity - though that is relevant. Transformed, hybrid working practices with less reliance upon standard offices, new COVID-secure procedures around shared space areas, standard 4 day week contracts and 'off-peak' organisations that manage their staff travel outside of peak travel hours all provide opportunities for significant change. Transformation is likely to be to a hybrid working environment. Innovative organisations with explicit wellbeing strategies will attract the most productive staff.

35% of people answered that their work load has not been affected by recent events, and a further 28% said they have significant capacity, meaning that much of the media focus has rightly been on how well many people have adapted to the “Working from Home” experiment.

However, 22% said they had only some capacity for work, and 14% said they had no capacity for work/study. Whilst much of this latter group may relate to furloughed staff, and so will bounce back once businesses come back, this won’t apply to all of this group, and indicates that some businesses may have challenges with how some of their staff can work optimally from home.

Whilst supporting home office conditions may be seen by some bosses and company leaders as not their concern, with the drive towards greater flexible working on the back of Covid, ensuring productivity from key staff, wherever they may be, should be considered a key success factor, especially if there is an opportunity to reduce fixed overheads from office rentals.

This point is emphasised by the fact that households shared by adults (typically but not exclusively how younger workers live) have the lowest percentage of full capacity working of all household types at 29%. It is therefore the youngest generation of current workers – the future of the company workforce - who are most greatly impacted in terms of productivity.

COVID-19 has affected workloads and effectiveness unevenly across the workforce. Forward-thinking business leaders should therefore consider ways in which to facilitate effective home office environments for all employees, in terms of age group and living scenarios, to get the most out of their staff, and to maintain staff satisfaction and retention; this is particularly relevant for millennials, who are less likely to be loyal to a company, especially if they don’t meet their emotional needs.