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Remote workers shun return to work

Study from UK gigabit broadband service provider reveals that despite received wisdom of home workers wanting to make at least partial return to pre-Covid working practices, stark contrast exists between employers and employees in their desire for staff to hit the office once more

Almost three years after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant an almost overnight pivot to homeworking for UK knowledge workers, the vast majority of UK hybrid workers still consider themselves more productive being based at home than in the office.

That was the standout finding of a study of more than 3,000 employers and workers from UK full-fibre broadband services provider Gigabit Networks, which revealed a massive gap between the wishes of employees and employers.

The study targeted small and medium-sized enterprise owners and operators in the Midlands, with a second study focusing on the wishes and expectations of employees. It went on to highlight the problems both businesses and employees experience in and around the now readily available ultrafast broadband and technology when working from home.

Namely, although the survey found that 83% of businesses asked wanted their employees to be based in the office for at least three days per working week, only 20% of employees were prepared to do it.

Most worryingly for employers, a substantial 41% of employees questioned stated that they didn’t want to return to the office at all.

Moreover, the research showed that employees were more interested in returning to the workplace to save money on their heating bills (33%) or socialise with colleagues (51%) rather than improve productivity. As many as 90% of employees questioned stated they considered the quality of their work to be superior when produced at home, with 85% stating they achieved more at home than in the workplace, despite problems with unreliable internet connections.

The survey also found that 55% of those questioned consider the cost of commuting a factor that would discourage them from returning to the office full-time, with 40% preferring the flexibility working from home can provide.

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Meanwhile, 54% of employers found either an increase or no difference in productivity with staff working from home, with a surprising 43% reporting that remote working actually improved communication between homeworking staff.

Almost three-fifths (58%) of employers highlighted concern about network security from potentially insecure home broadband connections.

“[The survey] made us question how much more businesses could benefit by providing their homeworkers with the ultrafast speed – up to 20 times faster than standard broadband – and reliability that full-fibre connectivity gives – it really could be a game changer for businesses,” said tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Gigabit Networks, David Yates. “Incredible broadband is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a ‘must have’ for hybrid staff working in 2023.”

“Employees working from home need to have access to the best tools to do their job and ultrafast full-fibre connectivity is that tool,” said Gigabit co-founder Dan Illet.

“Having staff working on slow and unreliable internet connections is like giving a racing driver a pushbike rather than a Porsche and still expecting them to win the race.”

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