Will working from home become new normal following COVID-19?

September 8, 2020

No one could have predicted all of the effects of the outbreak of COVID-19; from a surge in DIY to working from home and video conferences – 2020 has been a year of rapid change. 

Now a fresh round of grant funding has become available for some businesses who are based in Stoke-on-Trent or Staffordshire, to allow SMEs to adjust to unprecedented changes brought about by COVID-19. 

If your customers are other businesses, or you are based in the tourism sector and dependent upon the visitor economy, you may be able to apply for a grant for equipment to allow staff to work from home, although the equipment will still belong to the business. You can also get HR or specialist advice to enable staff to work from home. 

SMEs whose trade is 100% B2B could apply to the SME Restart Programme and SMEs located in a tourist area could apply to the Kickstarting Tourism Programme – both are subject to eligibility and businesses must be based in Stoke-on-Trent or Staffordshire. 

Nicola Kent, Growth Hub Manager, said: “The Growth Hub is pleased to have been able to support Staffordshire businesses throughout the pandemic and we are thrilled to have this European Regional Development Fund money at a time when it couldn’t be more vital for many businesses, especially those in the tourism sector.  

Businesses will have had to diversify or may have plans to do so going forward, and a grant to enable changes to their business model may be the helping hand they need. On the other hand, with some staff now returning to work, the grants may help with other requirements to change current workplaces.” 

For more information on how to apply for a grant, which can be up to £3k, click here. 

The Growth Hub is here for businesses

The Growth Hub has supported more businesses than ever over the past few months, with companies calling our helpline on 0300 111 8002 for advice about anything from grant funding and resilience to tax relief and talent retention.  

According to the Office of National Statistics, 30% of adults in the UK were exclusively working from home at the start of July. Many are still working from home even after lockdown has lifted. 

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed employers expect the proportion of people working from home regularly after the pandemic could rise to 37 per cent, compared with 18 per cent before the outbreak.  

According to The Independent, employers think the proportion of staff who work from home full time will rise to 22 per cent post-pandemic, compared to just 9 per cent before the lockdown. 

Why are more companies promoting working from home?

Technology companies have been leading the way and embracing working from home. Twitter has already said staff may not need to come back to the office if they don’t want to, and Facebook said half of its staff could be working remotely in a decade. 

When the COVID-19 outbreak is finally under control, the threat of another pandemic won’t just go away. Businesses will need to take what has been learned and apply that knowledge to help safeguard against the next virus. 

Other factors which have led to an increase in home working include: 

  • Employers looking to cut overheads of business rates, rents and utility bills by reducing office space
  • Technology allowing many roles to be performed anywhere
  • Flexible hours enabling people to have a better work/life balance
  • Rising costs of commuting vs huge savings with no commute
  • Employers reporting the success of homeworking and increased productivity

Working from home – conclusion

Friends, connections and networking face to face are vital to career progression and demonstrate that there is still a need for some office environments. While the idea of working Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm has quickly become outdated, there is still a desire to connect on a level which can only be achieved in an office. Perhaps more businesses will begin allowing their staff to work from home a few days a week, and we can all enjoy a better work/life balance.  

Call the Business Helpline to find out how we can help your business. Call 0300 111 8002.