What Will Next Year Bring For Remote Working In The UK?

Of all the impacts of the pandemic, none have been so far-reaching or affected more people for longer than the radical change in work patterns.

While some suffered directly from death, bereavement, or long Covid, and everyone had to endure lockdowns and other restrictions for a time, no change has been so profound for so many as the emergence of remote working, transforming from a niche activity mainly practised by the self-employed to a norm in many firms.

That applies as much here in Essex as anywhere and you may have already had to make good use of remote IT services to enable your firm to run smoothly, not least as many companies faced technical and, sometimes, security challenges when doing so without prior notice in the spring of 2020.

A key question that arose then was whether the remote working genie could be put back in the bottle, or whether a mass ‘return to work’ as advocated by the government and businesses could be accomplished. It soon transpired that such atavistic dreams would seldom be fulfilled when so many workers had found they could work effectively in remote settings and enjoyed it.

The question now is not whether 2024 will see a U-turn on this, but how might the nature of large-scale remote working change – and how do businesses need to respond? Will employees be able to assert work-from-home freedoms even more, or will employers wrest back some control?

Technopedia predicted that the most dominant feature of working from home we shall see in 2024 will be the emergence of a new approach by firms to try to strike a favourable balance. It notes that a survey by USA Today has revealed that, in the US at least, workers are willing to work less if they can work from home (no doubt saving on commuting costs).

That means bosses cannot gain by throwing money at the issue. Indeed, while some have sought to force a return to work, others have found it is no problem to embrace remoteness.

A case in point is CSAA Insurance Group, whose chief human resources officer Melissa Jones said staff “did not miss a beat” due to remote work. Instead, she observed: “Remote work delivered incredible value to our company while empowering employees with the option and responsibility to achieve their work results regardless of their location.”

Her argument – one that has been widely accepted – is that to restrict or exclude the prospect of remote work is to make a job less attractive.  

Here in the UK, many people will also appreciate the chance to work fully remotely. But a more nuanced picture has emerged; as the Home Office Life noted, the most popular approach is hybrid working, with a split between the home and office.

However, this picture also has demographic variations. Younger workers (16-24) prefer to work in the office every day, where they have more chances to learn from people and build up social connections, while over-55s are the most likely to enjoy fully remote work.

What that may suggest is that while remote working is here to stay in 2024, the best approach is to offer flexibility to cover the full array of preferred work styles, balanced between the home and office. The IT support you seek should, therefore, reflect this plan.

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