A survey has found that managers are more positive about their staff working from home and flexible working hours, as a result of the pandemic.
During the first lockdown in March, millions of people in the UK were told to work from home, often for the first time ever, while also trying to juggle homeschooling their kids at the same time.
According to the study headed up by the University of Birmingham and the University of Kent, the lockdown has opened the eyes of our bosses to the benefits of working differently.
Nearly six out ten (59%) of managers surveyed said that working from home increases productivity, compared to only 44% agreeing with this statement before lockdown.
The study found that businesses which previously had discouraged flexible working policies were caught out by the pandemic, mainly due to having no real infrastructure in place to support this new way of working.
Findings from the two universities also suggest that flexible working is here to stay, at least for the short-to-medium term. Despite restrictions lifting, more than half (55%) of managers surveyed said that 80% of their employees have continued to work from home since March.
Dr Holly Birkett of the University of Birmingham said:
Managers say their organisations are going to be more supportive of homeworking and flexible working in the future, including more likely to support working from home, job shares and part time working even for senior roles.
Dr Heejung Chung of the University of Kent, who was also behind the study, claimed that the flexible working genie is now out of the bottle, with more workers wanting to work flexibly in the future.
Dr Chung added:
Government policies to help make that cultural shift, by introducing stronger rights to flexible working and better protection against discrimination for flexible workers may help this transition go smoothly after the COVID-19 lockdown measures end.
The findings were announced at a webinar on 26 November.