Coronavirus: Half of UK businesses caught off guard by remote working

Only 39% of businesses already used technology that made remote working easy before the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to a survey. (Getty)

Almost half (49%) of UK businesses admit they were not prepared to effectively transition to remote working when the coronavirus pandemic hit, a new survey has found.

Only 39% already used technology that made remote working easy, according to the survey of over 900 decision-makers in UK firms by London-based tech developer Studio Graphene.

Millions of UK employees began working from home due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, with offices closing as the country entered nationwide lockdown and social distancing regulations were put in place.

The majority (72%) of large businesses with 250 employees or more have had to invest in new hardware to allow staff to work from home effectively. Some 19% of microbusinesses with 10 employees or fewer have done the same.

Businesses have also had to bring in new software with 48% of firms investing in new computer programs since the outbreak of COVID-19. This figure rises to 62% among large businesses.

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To support the transition to remote working, 40% of companies have offered digital skills training to employees to help them work from home in the most productive way.

Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene, said: “The lockdown has been a wake-up call for all businesses.

“While some already embraced practices to enable employees to work remotely, a great many were caught out when offices closed — they did not have the tech in place for staff to work effectively from their homes. 

“It is positive, however, to see two-fifths of businesses take it upon themselves to offer digital skills training for staff, and generally invest more heavily in new tech. Once we return to something resembling normality, this will equip more workers to choose where, and when, they work. 

“The seeds for the flexible working revolution have truly been sown, and the pandemic will certainly accelerate the move towards employees doing their jobs outside of the office’s four walls.”