UK businesses were caught off guard by remote working

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UK businesses were caught off guard by the transition to remote working in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, research has found. A new survey of over 900 decision-makers has revealed how UK businesses have managed the transition to remote working.

49% of businesses admit they were not prepared to effectively transition to remote working
Only 39% already used technology that made remote working easy
72% of large businesses have had to invest in new hardware so staff can work remotely
Only 19% of micro-businesses have done the same
62% of large businesses have invested in new software, compared with an average of 48% across all businesses

London-based tech developer Studio Graphene commissioned the independent survey among over 900 decision-makers within UK businesses. It found that 49% of businesses were not adequately set up to enable staff to work remotely before the lockdown began.

Two fifths (39%) of firms were not using technology that supported remote working when the lockdown was announced.

The vast majority (72%) of large businesses (250+ employees) have had to invest in new hardware to enable staff to work from home. By contrast, only 19% of microbusinesses have done the same.

Meanwhile, 62% of large businesses have had to invest in new software. This compares with an average of 48% across all businesses.

To support the transition, 40% of businesses have offered digital skills training to employees in light of the move to remote working. This rises to almost half (46%) of large businesses, compared with just 28% of microbusinesses.

Says Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene:

“The lockdown has been a wake-up call for all businesses. While some already embraced practices to enable employees to work remotely, a great many were caught out when offices closed – they did not have the tech in place for staff to work effectively from their homes.

“It is positive, however, to see two-fifths of businesses take it upon themselves to offer digital skills training for staff, and generally invest more heavily in new tech. Once we return to something resembling normality, this will equip more workers to choose where, and when, they work.

“The seeds for the flexible working revolution have truly been sown, and the pandemic will certainly accelerate the move towards employees doing their jobs outside of the office’s four walls.”

Chris Price
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