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Tuesday 19 May 2020

Evidence mounts that Working FROM Home will become a permanent fixture

WFH2To build on my many articles around the subject of ‘How Working FROM Home will be the ‘New Normal’ after the acute stage of the COVID-19 crisis has passed, a survey today reported in The Times adds to the evidence. A Deutsche Bank survey found that the longer people worked from home, the less likely they were to return to working in an office every day. Now they had setup their remote systems, and found them both to work and be at least as productive as traipsing to the office everyday, the more likely that mode of working would become permanent.

57% of the 450 financial services market professionals Deutsche Bank surveyed said they would continue to work from home for at least part of their time - up considerably from surveys before COVID-19.

Even when/if they do return to their offices, it will be a very different place with social distancing requiring possibly 3x the office space per worker. So either companies will have to shell out far more for the increased office space required or more will be required to WFH. Property services group, Colliers, estimate that 11.8m people in the UK work at desks in offices. If 60% of desks become unusable, 7.8m will have to continue to WFH. A Colliers survey of 4000 people found that 73% of people thought their productivity was the same or higher when WFH and 76% thought their work/life balance had been improved.

Ever hopeful, Mark Allan, CEO of the UK’s biggest office landlord, Land Securities, argues that social distancing would mean companies requiring MORE office space - thus pushing UP demand. ‘Well, he would say that wouldn’t he!’.

Personally, I see a hybrid solution with most people who can WFH continuing to do so. But coming into an office around once per week for team meetings as well as client interactions. I have always said, and indeed is the case at TechMarketView, Working FROM Home does not mean Working AT Home all the time. Before COVID-19 hit, TMV people travelled to external meetings at least twice per week. The point being that they started and ended travel to those meetings from their homes. This often meant avoiding rush hour travel - exactly what HMGovt wants returning commuters to do.

Sorry Land Securities, but WFH is a permanent fixture.

Footnote - For some reason the photo I had used to illustrate WFH had created myriad criticism. I hope you find the new one (note laptops don't need cables and there is no wrong-facing coffee mug) less irritating!

Posted by: Richard Holway

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