The COVID-19 pandemic forced organisations around the world to quickly adapt to a new remote reality, in some cases for the first time, in the largest work-from-home shift ever. We’ve officially fast-tracked to the future of work.
Meetings suddenly became Zoom meetings, with video calls happening at a rate not seen before COVID-19. Not only did people embrace remote work, they have now grown to expect it. After six months of working from home full-time, we learned that UK workers prefer remote work, with almost one in two workers willing to take a pay cut to continue working from home in the long term.
For Owl Labs’ 2020 UK State of Remote Work report, we learn more about the current state of remote work in 2020 and UK workers new expectations. We wanted to uncover remote work statistics and gather the current work from home trends to provide you with a comprehensive remote work benchmark report during COVID-19.
In this report, you’ll learn:
- Current remote work statistics and trends
- How people are adapting to and now desire remote work
- How companies are handling the COVID-19 guidelines for telework
- Challenges employees feel about returning to the office
- What leaders and companies should know to support today’s employees’ needs
- How key findings from our UK 2020 report compare to the Owl Labs State of Remote Work Report 2020 US report
Remote Work Statistics and Trends During COVID-19
- 84% of UK full-time workers are planning on working remotely in some form for the rest of 2020
- 41% would be likely to resign if they were forced to return to the office against their will
- Almost half (44%) of UK full-time workers plan to work a full five day working-week from home, with 55% planning a more hybrid role with one to four days in the office
- 45% of office workers are willing to take a pay cut in order to continue working from home in the long-term
- 15% would be willing to take a pay cut of 5%, the equivalent to £1,518 a year when looking at the average full-time UK salary of £30,353*
- 1 in 2 office workers (46%) would be likely to resign from their current role if their company were to cut their pay as part of cost savings across the business
- 41% would resign if their employer cut their pay if they chose to move to a suburban or rural location to work from home permanently
- Over half of employees (51%) would find a cost of living adjustment unfair and would start looking for other roles, whilst 8% would find it unfair and quit, even if they didn’t have another job to go to
- 74% believe their company should pay for, or provide, office technology equipment (including laptops, printers, and extra screens) when they work from home
- 50% believe their company should provide office furniture (including desks and ergonomic chairs)
- 50% of employees believe their companies should contribute to WiFi and phone bills, and 48% to electricity bills when working from home, something not regularly supported by companies
- 62% of workers believe their employers should provide free COVID-19 tests, with 65% saying free PPE (such as masks, gloves, and antibacterial gel and wipes) should be provided as standard when working from the office
- When working from home, 61% of employees would be concerned if their company brought in remote activity and productivity monitoring, with over a third (36%) saying they’d be likely to resign if so
Table of Contents
Remote work has proven to be the preferable way to operate. So much, in fact, that employees would be willing to take a pay cut in order to keep a flexible working schedule. Leaders, take note. Incorporating flexible and hybrid work policies may be a necessity to retain and recruit top talent.
Would you be willing to take a pay cut to continue working from home?
Willing to take a pay cut by…?
Owl Labs Takeaway:
The higher the salary, the more apt they are to participate in a pay cut to keep a remote working schedule.
Whilst employees are keen to continue working from home, they do have certain expectations on what employers should be providing them with, or supporting the cost of, so companies take note.
What should employers pay for / provide for employees working from home?
Office technology equipment (printer, webcam / video equipment, laptop / computer, additional screen, etc.):
It seems like employees are not quite ready to return to the office. Leading the concerns is COVID-19 and the threat of a second wave of the virus. Second to this, are the costs of commuting versus the perceived safety of public transport. Read on to learn more about employees’ concerns as they consider going back to the office.
Fears of a second wave of coronavirus
Fears that you won't be able to socially distance in the office
Affect on your mental health
In a shifting work landscape, when it comes to working in an office, employees have shifted their expectations on what employers should be providing.
What should employers pay for / provide for employees working from the office?
Owl Labs Takeaways:
It comes as no surprise that those most concerned with COVID-19 are those in the oldest age group and therefore most at risk.
Commuting costs and not wanting to use public transport concerns remained consistent across the board by age.
Respondents aged 45-54 were more than twice as likely to want to return to office than any other age group (average 6.5% and 45-54: 13% want to return to the office).
When breaking it down by gender, females and males were consistent in their responses regarding concerns, with men only 3% more concerned about not being able to socially-distance in the office.
COVID-19 is a real concern for many, and employees are deeply concerned about being forced to return to an office when it doesn’t feel safe to do so. We believe remote work and hybrid teams are here to stay, and employers should start to adapt to this next wave of working to keep employees safe, and happy.
How likely would you be to resign from your job if your company forced you to return to the office against your will?
Owl Labs Takeaway:
The younger the age, the more likely they are to resign if they were forced to return to the office before they felt it was safe, or ready to return.
Working from home can be a challenge for employees and employers alike. Employees are adapting to new schedules and communication tactics, and employers are trying to get a grasp on productivity and output. Data shows that 75% of people are the same or more productive during COVID-19 whilst working from home, but some employers still feel the need to more clearly understand what their employees are accomplishing daily. So we asked, how would you feel about employee monitoring, and this is what respondents said.
When working from home, 61% of employees would be concerned if their company brought in remote activity and productivity monitoring, with 36% saying they’d be likely to resign if so.
Working from home has its benefits, but these benefits do come with their own set of unique challenges. Being distracted by children, spouses or pets throughout the day has proved a challenge for many. Not having a proper home office setup is another. Some people are just ready to get back to the office, and below we uncover the reasons why.
Which of the following reasons, if any, are the biggest drivers to you wishing to return to the office?
Here we breakdown the question by gender, with some responses that might surprise you.
Loneliness: I miss interacting with my team in person
Home life balance: I would prefer to keep my work in an office setting
Productivity: I am more productive in an office environment
Career Progression: I miss the visibility of being in the office as well as training, mentoring and career progression opportunities
Childcare: I would prefer not to balance childcare and my job at home
Nothing, I do not want to return to the office
Whether you were ready for it or not, the future of work is here. Our lives will be forever changed due to COVID-19 and its implications, and what we’ve learned in our UK report is that employees have had a taste of remote work and they want it to continue.
What we also learned is that UK employees want to return to the office but at their own discretion. They want to return when they feel it is safe to do so, with over 40% saying they would consider resigning if forced against their will.
Businesses today now have a remote workforce with different needs, and companies that will ultimately succeed will embrace and benefit from it. It’s time to rethink the way you work, and rethink the products, tools and strategies currently in place to better support remote work and hybrid teams.
Thanks for taking the time to read our report. We hope you found it insightful and useful. For any press inquiries, please reach out to owlUK@clarity.pr.