Workplace with computer at home

More home working is likely to become a permanent thing for a huge number of businesses even after the Covid-19 pandemic ends, according to a new survey.

Seventy-four per cent of the near-1,000 businesses surveyed by the Institute of Directors (IoD) said they plan to continue the increased levels of home working and reduce the use of long-term workplaces.

A similar survey of bosses whose businesses have already cut workplace use found that 44% believed the move had been "more effective".

Roger Barker, director of policy at the IoD, said: "Remote working has been one of the most tangible impacts of coronavirus on the economy. For many, it could be here to stay.

"Working from doesn't work for everyone, and directors must be alive to the downsides. Managing teams remotely can prove far from straightforward, and directors must make sure they are going out of their way to support employees' mental wellbeing."

Despite all signs suggesting businesses sticking with home working after the pandemic, Mr Barker stressed that it is not the death of the office.

He said: "The benefits of the office haven't gone away. For many companies, bringing teams together in person proves more productive and enjoyable. Shared workspace often provides employees the opportunity for informal development and networking that is so crucial, particularly early on in a career."

In August, a study by the BBC found that 50 of the UK's largest employers were not planning to bring back all staff to offices full-time. And 24 of those said they were not planning to bring back any staff the offices at all.

Surging energy bills

Meanwhile, fuel poverty charity National Energy Action has warned that low-paid workers could be pushed into debt as increase home working leads to a surge in gas and electricity bills over the winter.

Speaking to The Observer, the organisation's Peter Smith said: "This could lead to increased affordability issues, more energy debt or even energy rationing, which can be dangerous all year round but particular during colder weather.”

Colder weather and less daylight through the winter has led Energy Helpline to suggest that bills could rise as much as 18% or £100, leading to a national surcharge of £1.9 billion.