Coronavirus impacts productivity of 2 in 3 workers

The productivity of 67 per cent of the UK’s workforce is being impacted by working from home as a result of the coronavirus, concludes a new report for Onecom, the UK’s largest independent business telecommunications provider. The study, which investigated the impact of the virus and working from home on businesses, surveyed 1,000 workers at UK small and medium sized businesses who have worked from home since the lockdown was announced.

Of those in the study that have been affected by the lockdown, 39 per cent said that their level of productivity at work had decreased, while 28 per cent believed that it had increased. Another 28 per cent said that their productivity had been unaffected by the coronavirus or the lockdown altogether. The same study, entitled ‘Onecom Reports: How 4 in 5 SMEs are Overcoming the Work From Home Challenge During COVID-19’, also found a similar pattern in how motivated workers felt. 42 per cent said that they have felt less motivated while working at home, while 25 per cent felt more motivated. 29 per cent said that there had been no change in how motivated they felt.

Despite the change in levels of productivity, the study also found that 83 per cent of the sample are using technology (such as business mobiles and laptops) more often than they were before. Use of emails, telephone, video conferencing, social media and web-based research tasks have all increased since the lockdown. Around 1 in 4 are also using social media for personal reasons more often during the workday. The below table illustrates how SME workers’ technology use has changed.

How the technology use of SME employees (who are working from home due to the coronavirus) has increased since the lockdown
1 I use my work emails more often when working from home 32%
2 I use messaging/communications software more often when working from home 29%
3 I use video conferencing software more often when working from home 28%
4 I spend more time on work calls when working from home 27%
5 I use social media for personal reasons more when working from home 24%
6 I use social media for work more when working from home 22%
7 I use my web browser for personal reasons more often when working from home 20%
8 I do web-based research tasks more often when working from home 18%
9 I use industry specific software/tools more often when working from home 15%
10 I spend more time on personal calls when working from 15%

“While there is a significant minority who feel less productive because of working from home, 56 per cent have actually seen no impact or a positive effect. What this means in practice is that working from home has a splintering effect on the productivity of workforces, with most benefiting or seeing no difference and a minority of people struggling with the lack of face time or not being in the office. Identifying and managing that minority presents a challenge for managers, however the findings of this report really highlight how important it is for work teams to continue utilising technology to stay in touch – not just via email, but also through video and audio conferencing too,” said Helen Myers, Onecom’s Operations Director.

56 per cent of the workers in the study also said that the way their work team operates has ‘changed forever’ due to the coronavirus and the switch to working from home. This suggests that many workers may now expect that they will be working from home more often, even once the lockdown restrictions have been fully lifted.

For more on the study, visit https://onecom.co.uk/onecom-report-working-from-home-during-covid-19/

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