Polling gives further insight into the pandemic’s flexible working legacy

Monday 21 June 2021

New polling released today by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry provides insight into the home working plans of businesses in the capital, once COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted.

Headline findings:

  • 83% of businesses that can work from home expect staff to do so at least one day a week.
  • 46% of businesses that can work from home expect staff to do so 4 or 5 days a week.
  • 78% of businesses that were primarily office-based pre-pandemic (and for whom working from home is an option) expect staff to work from home at least one day a week.
  • 20% of businesses that were primarily office-based pre-pandemic (and for whom working from home is an option) expect staff to work from home 2 days a week, and the same proportion expect staff to work from home 3 days a week.
  • 18% of businesses that were primarily office-based pre-pandemic (and for whom working from home is an option) expect staff to work from home 5 days a week.
  • A fifth of business leaders are considering use of co-working spaces.
  • 10% said they are already using co-working spaces.

LCCI commissioned Savanta ComRes to poll 520 business leaders from companies of varying London boroughs, sectors and sizes about their company’s work from home plans, attitudes towards co-working spaces, as well as any staff concerns about workplace return.

Before COVID-19, 34% of these businesses were primarily office based, whilst 38% primarily worked from home.  Others were based around retail premises, hospitality premises, public buildings, other fixed locations, or were mobile.

When asked: Once COVID-19 restrictions have been fully lifted for several months, how many days per week do you expect employees to work from home, on average?

Of the 68% of businesses for whom working from home is an option:

  • 36% said 5 days a week.
  • 10% said 4 days a week.
  • 17% said 3 days a week.
  • 14% said 2 days a week.
  • 7% said 1 day a week.
  • 9% do not expect employees will work from home under normal circumstances.
  • 8% said don’t know.

83% of businesses that can work from home said that they expect employees to work remotely at least one day a week.  Whilst nearly half (46%) of all the businesses able to work from home expect employees to work from home 4 or 5 days a week.

Micro companies are significantly more likely to utilise remote working post-pandemic. Nearly double the number of businesses employing nine people or fewer expect employees to work from home 4 or 5 days a week, when compared to those employing ten people or more (49% vs 25%).

31% of businesses employing ten people or more said that they expect employees to work from home ‘no more than two days a week’: 19% for those employing nine people or fewer.

56% of businesses employing ten people or more said that they expect employees to work from home ‘no more than three days a week’.  35% for those employing nine people or fewer.

Amongst the businesses where working from home is an option, AND who were primarily office-based before the pandemic, once restrictions have been fully lifted for several months 10% do not expect working from home among normal circumstances, but 78% expect employees to work from home at least once a week. This breaks down as:

One day a week: 9%.

Two days a week: 20%

Three days a week: 20%

Four days a week: 11%

Five days a week: 18%

12% said they don't know.

LCCI also explored interest amongst 520 business leaders in using co-working spaces in the capital, asking: Which of the following best describes your organisation's attitudes towards the use of co-working spaces for employees to use, based away from your main business premises?

  • 43% said not applicable to my organisation.
  • 29% said we are not considering the use of co-working spaces.
  • 18% said we are considering use of co-working spaces.
  • 10% said we are already using co-working spaces.

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The high percentages of businesses that are able to work from home continuing to do so in some form will raise eyebrows, but arguably what’s most interesting from this data is the percentages of businesses who were primarily office-based pre-pandemic that are now expecting their staff to work remotely for varying proportions of the week, including all of it in some cases. 

"We also learn that around half of the businesses we spoke to, for whom it is applicable, are either considering using, or already use, co-working spaces.

“The pandemic will deliver a remote working legacy in London.  Eventual lifting of the work from home guidance will of course increase commuter footfall in the centre, but seemingly many businesses have already made decisions regarding their premises and ways of working once restrictions are lifted.  As such this isn’t just about the government guidance, it’s about what business has judged best for the bottom-line or productivity of their company.

“I urge policy-makers in the capital to consider these findings.”

520 business leaders were also asked what, if any, are the main reasons your employees are concerned about coming back to the workplace?

  • 34% said not applicable - my organisation is not workplace-based.
  • 10% said not applicable - my organisation did not close its workplace.
  • 18% said risk of contracting COVID-19 when commuting.
  • 17% said risk of contracting COVID-19 at the workplace.
  • 12% said cost of the commute.
  • 12% said less flexibility in the working day.
  • 10% said additional commuting time.
  • 8% said less productive than working from home.
  • 7% said difficulties with childcare / other caring responsibilities.
  • 7% said prefer working alone.
  • 2% said other.
  • 15% said no concerns / don't know.

 

Notes to Editor:

Methodology: Savanta ComRes interviewed 520 London business leaders online between 28th April and 6th June 2021. Data were weighted to be representative of all London business leaders by size and broad industry sector. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.