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Research insights: Organisational attitudes to home working as a result of the Covid crisis

Organisations around the world will be at different stages in addressing the growing demand to provide greater flexibility to their workforce, home working featuring particularly prominently within this. Clearly some companies will have been better equipped than others to handle the challenge that has been enforced upon us, resulting in the largest ever mass experiment of home working. Almost inevitably a by-product of this crisis is going to be a challenge to the status quo on home working. It will be interesting to see how organisations are going to respond, because like it or not, the workforce will be thinking about it!

The HR profession is highly likely to play a pivotal role on this subject when organisations eventually return to normality post ‘lockdown’. As such we thought it would be instructive to get a pulse check from the HR community to give an early indication of what organisations may be confronted with, perhaps a lot sooner than many had been ready for.


Two prominent themes were clear from the data received in the survey.

Firstly, home working looks likely to increase beyond its current levels. HR professionals overwhelmingly believe their workforce is not only going to make increasing demands for greater home working provision after this crisis subsides, but the majority even expect their organisations to react within next 12 months. 85% believe this change will in fact be a business benefit. Closer to home, 76% of HR professionals not already enjoying this complete flexibility will personally want more of it. This itself isn’t overly surprising, but perhaps the question may now be how much support they can now galvanise across their organisations to make it happen, especially as the numbers drop when comparing those in favour of it with those who think it’ll actually happen.

The second point, and a most welcome one at that, is that vast majority (91%) of HR professionals commented that their organisations are now harnessing technology more effectively as a result of this crisis. In fairness, the novelty of video conferencing may be wearing off a little, but clearly more organisations are seeing the possibilities, not just in convenience and efficiency, but in some cases even costs. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the costs of VC subscriptions escalating in the not too distant future! I’ve also seen that many organisations have long held the capability of tools like Teams, Skype, Zoom, OneDrive, Google drive, SharePoint at al, but hitherto have been left idle somewhere in the depths of the programme list of most employees desktops! Some may even have ventured out to explore new, agile tools which support smarter working and more fluid collaboration, being enticed to start exploring the likes of as Slack, Trello, Asana, Evernote, Ryver, and many more way beyond my meagre knowledge!.

As additional insight, between 15-20% of respondents seem to work for organisations already offering complete flexibility around home working (the national stats show home workers account for c. 14% of the UK working population). It’s probably fair to assume the same group were those who seemed to be maximising technology already to support this. Are these the organisations not just ahead of the game in presenting themselves to the world with modern business cultures, but are they also using technology to make optimise their business performance? Are the others missing a trick or two?

What pans out from this will be very interesting to observe. The proof will be in the pudding when people actually return to their daily commutes, with some missing the physical presence of colleagues and welcoming it, and others who have got far too comfortable by half moving from meeting to meeting in their trackie/jogging bottoms and will be dreading it!

Here is a summary of the survey results.

Q1. Do you anticipate that the workforce at your current company will make greater demands for your organisation to extend its current provision for home/remote working after the coronavirus crisis?

  • 74% of HR professionals answered yes
  • 16% said they already have complete flexibility in place
  • Of those not currently offering complete flexibility, 88% believe that their companies will face growing demands to extend its current home working provision when the crisis subsides

Q2. Do you think your organisation would benefit from greater flexibility on home working than is currently permitted?

  • 70% of HR professionals answered yes
  • 17% said they already have complete flexibility in place
  • Of those not currently offering complete flexibility, 85% believe a change would benefit their business
  • Only 5% did not believe this would benefit their organisation

Q3: Do you think your organisation will extend its current provision for home working within the next year?

  • 65% of those at organisations not already offering complete flexibility answered yes, compared to 11% saying no
  • 20% were undecided

Q4: Will you personally want more home working flexibility after this experience?

  • 76% of HR professionals not currently enjoying complete flexibility said they would personally want more of this
  • 14% said they would not want their organisations to provide even more flexibility

Q5: Is your organisation making better use of the technology it’s had, or been able to gain access to, as a result of this crisis?

  • 91% felt their companies had improved their use of technology as a result of this crisis
  • Under 20% felt they had already been using technology to its capacity
  • 5% answered no, so effectively less than 1% believing their organisation had failed to make necessary improvements in the use of technology during this period

If you’d like to view all the data from our survey you can do so on this link Organisational attitudes to home working data

If you have any questions, or would like a copy of our findings directly (pdf or PowerPoint formats are available) just drop me an email on [email protected]

Finally, I’d like to sincerely thank all who participated and contributed to publicising this research, it’s helped provide some meaningful data. By the same token, to make sure as many people can make use of this as possible, please can I ask any who read this with interest to take a few seconds to like, share and/or comment!

  1. If you liked this, you may be interested by other insight/research pieces we’ve published – here is a sample below, and always happy to hear suggestions for future projects.

Home working – has the horse now bolted on reluctant employers?

Practical tips from HR leaders to help assess for commercial thinking

Improving the effectiveness of your assessment process when making experienced HR hires

Who’s owning the problem of deficient commercial thinking in HR?

The ‘norms’ of todays Talent Acquisition teams

Is ‘cultural fit’ the right indicator when hiring HR professionals?