As companies come out of their fully remote working situations, many people wonder what their work lives will look like going forward. Will companies stay fully remote, or will they adopt a hybrid approach where employees spend most of their time at home but still have to come into the office on occasion?
The discussion of where to work is at a critical stage now. Management still envisions having employees in the office for a few days a week, while more employees are pushing for a fully remote situation. Everyone wants more flexibility, yet companies aren’t prepared to fully abandon the office space.
Can the last couple of years give us an idea of what works best for everyone? Let’s take a closer look at the remote working statistics to see what they tell us.
The Most Significant Remote Working Statistics for the UK
1. In 2019, 3.91 million UK employees worked remotely
In 2019 just under 4 million people worked remotely within the UK, and increased to nearly 60% of all British workers in the first half of 2021, following government guidance to work from home where possible, according to Finder.com.
Even if companies decide to move to a hybrid remote/in-person option in the future, a higher number will be allowed to work remotely at least some of the time. Companies that haven’t traditionally allowed it before now realise the benefits of remote working for their employees today and are considering it more often.
2. 57% of British workers want to be able to work from home
Before 2020, only 11% of workers worked remotely full-time, while 21% did it part-time. Today, those numbers jumped dramatically as both people and companies realised just how much work they could get done away from the office.
In the UK today, there are more than three times the number of job adverts offering remote working options than before. That’s 78,000 more jobs that involve remote working on some level that wasn’t only a temporary option for 2020. And people are looking for hybrid roles more often as they want the flexibility to work either at home or in an office. Many people want the option to interact in person with their colleagues if they want but don’t want to be forced to do so if it’s not necessary.
3. One in five British workers are considering moving far away from their workplaces
After the explosion of remote working in the last two years, it’s not surprising that people are now considering making bigger changes in their home lives. If they don’t need to travel to an office anymore to work, they could move to a location with a lower cost of living. This is of particular interest to those located in high-cost centres like London, with 29% of Londoners saying they would consider relocating to a different area of the country while retaining their current job.
These numbers increase dramatically when looking at UK tech employees, as 71% of them would move to a different country if they could continue to work remotely. Even more people would jump at the opportunity to move to a different area or region of their own country, with 81% of tech employees saying they would.
4. 61% of IT spending this year will be in cybersecurity, yet only 34% of UK companies are using VPNs
Given the amount of remote working companies did in the last year and the marked increase in cyberattacks on remote workers, companies realise they need to increase their security strategies. This year alone, they’ll spend almost U$72.5 billion on cybersecurity consulting, hardware support, implementation, outsourced services, and cloud security support. Companies without the budget to procure laptops, smartphones, and other technology for their employees to use at home will need to consider other options to protect their data and systems, such as virtual private networks (VPNs.)
VPNs protect corporate data and systems from intrusion and cyberattacks and protect companies from unsecured personal devices being used by remote workers. VPNs protect companies against unpatched or insecure personal devices being used for remote working since personal devices are often less secure than corporate systems. They also help corporate security teams monitor and filter employees’ network traffic for legal and security reasons. Companies in the financial industry often have a legal requirement to monitor employee activity to prevent fraud and log activity for audit purposes.
So, why do only 34% of British companies have deployed VPNs to their remote workers? Given the increase in remote work and the vulnerability of remote workers to hacks, it seems like a missed opportunity for UK companies. VPNs are flexible enough to protect connections made by computers, laptops, and smartphones, so why aren’t more British companies adding them to their tech stack for remote workers?
5. 71% of managers were surprised by remote workers’ productivity
Many managers were reluctant to allow employees to work remotely because they couldn’t physically oversee what their employees were doing. They didn’t understand how to be effective virtually and get the proof they need to ensure that employees are actually working. The last 18 months have shattered that myth in the UK as nearly three-quarters of them were surprised at their teams’ productivity levels, with 52% of them saying their teams are even more productive than when they’re in the office.
Managers with a progressive leadership style who can evaluate their employees by their accomplishments rather than the number of hours they spend online will do well in remote settings, micromanagers will not. Companies need to provide managers with the training they need to be effective managers from afar. Employees need access to the right software tools and apps to keep them engaged and productive. Project management apps like Trello and Asana can keep them on target, video conferencing software like Zoom and Google Meet give teams the visibility they need, and messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams help them stay in touch with colleagues.
Global Remote Working Statistics
Now, to compare the UK remote working stats to the rest of the world, here are a few more stats to consider.
- 27% of remote workers in the U.S. would take a 10-20% pay cut to permanently work from home. (FlexJobs)
- 22% of remote employees report that unplugging after work is their biggest challenge. (Buffer)
- 72% of talent professionals say that work flexibility, including remote work options, is very important for recruiting. (LinkedIn)
- 76% of people avoid their office completely when they need to concentrate on a project. (Atlassian)
- Nearly 70% of American executives say typical employees need to be in the office for most of the week to maintain a distinct corporate culture. (PWC)
- Working remotely saves U.K. workers an average of 59 minutes daily on commutes and American workers 40 minutes daily. (OwlLabs)
Remote Working in the UK
Designing a new work environment will take consultation and collaboration between executives and employees. The global shift to remote work for many jobs has shown that not everyone needs to be in the office to produce their best work. In the UK, over half of all remote employees have said they’re more productive working remotely than they were in the office. British companies should get used to having a remote working option for employees; they’ve shown they can do the work, but more than that, they expect to be offered one.
For the most part, the benefits of remote working outweigh the negatives, so employers should be prepared for the increased demand for it. Companies should develop new training programs for managers and employees, so each role knows how to effectively engage and collaborate remotely. Tech teams should deploy remote working software that can be easily deployed and supported remotely. Executives should create a new corporate culture that focuses on business outcomes and encourages employees to work when they’re able to produce their best work.
The stats show that today’s employees work differently than they did in the past, so why are we still using traditional metrics to measure them? Take a look at your own company’s employees and metrics to see how you can change how you work.