SURVEY:
Get Home Working Done

Nationwide research of lockdown Britain’s working practices.

Introduction

This is the first large-scale survey of office workers following one month of the UK's nationwide lockdown to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The research, published by Atlas Cloud, looks into the working habits of more than 3,000 office workers during the coronavirus pandemic, discovering where they’re working from, how well employers have equipped them and why some companies are still office-based.

Executive Summary

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick overview of the significant findings of the research:

  • The first large-scale survey of British working habits since the coronavirus lockdown began finds four in five office workers (79%) now based at home believe the lockdown has proven they can work effectively from home.
  • However, more than half of homeworkers (57%) believe their company should be doing more to help them work productively from home.
  • A quarter of workers are using a personal laptop (25%) for homeworking and more than half of those are storing work files on their personal devices, raising concerns about the security of business information.
  • British businesses are now facing a trilemma of homeworking problems including a global shortage of laptops, poor home broadband connection and cyber security.
  • The living room is the most common place for people to work from home, followed by the study/home office, bedroom, dining room and kitchen.

Sector specific summaries

  • Four in five (80%) public sector workers now based at home believe the lockdown has proven they can work effectively from home.

  • However, almost half (48%) believe their company should be doing more to help them work productively from home.

  • Only a half (52%) of public sector staff said their employer has helped them to make adequate provisions to work from home long-term.

  • While more than one in eight (13%) of public sector workers said they need their company to act urgently to enable them to work productively from home during the lockdown.

  • And more than a third (35%) of workers said they need their company to invest in longer-term solutions.

  • Prior to the coronavirus pandemic less than two-thirds of public sector workers (60%) said they always had the ability to work from home when they needed to.

  • According to the latest ONS statistics, prior to the Coronavirus lockdown only 3% of public sector workers reported that they work mainly from home, compared with 17% of people who worked in the private sector.

  • Almost a sixth are using a personal laptop (15%) for homeworking and more than a third (34%) are storing work files on their personal devices.

  • Public sector workers on average are encountering 1.9 technological problems each while working from home. The areas where public sector workers said they needed improvement in their home-working setup included:

    • Almost half (49%) who said their work was hampered by the poor performance of their home internet connection
    • Almost a third (30%) said they could not access the computer files they need while working from home
    • More than a quarter of workers (28%) complained of having to log in to too many separate software packages and apps while working from home
    • More than one in seven (15%) said the quality of the laptop, desktop or tablet they were using to work on from home was negatively affecting their work productivity

  • The living room is the most common place for public sector staff to work from home accounting for more than quarter (27%) of responses.

  • More than a fifth (22%) said they are working from the dining room, while 20% are working in a study or home office, and 18% in a bedroom.

  • More than two thirds of public sector workers are working on a laptop or desktop supplied by their employer prior to the coronavirus pandemic (70%).

  • However, almost a sixth of workers are now working at home on personal laptops and desktops (15%), while a further 15% are working on laptops and desktops bought since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • In March, The Crown Commercial Service warned that stock levels have been heavily impacted and large scale requirements are unlikely to be met in short timescales, particularly for brand new devices.

    While it is possible to place an order for new devices in the low hundreds public sector organisations requiring thousands of devices were being advised it could involve a wait of 30 to 40 days.

  • While the survey showed almost a third (28%) of office workers have flagged concerns about their access to computer files while working from home, more than a third (34%) of those now working on personal devices are storing business information on those personal devices.

  • Almost one in twenty of those surveyed (4%) said they have no password protection on the computer they are now using while working from home.
  • More than four in five (85%) financial services workers now based at home believe the lockdown has proven they can work effectively from home.

  • However, almost two thirds (63%) believe their company should be doing more to help them work productively from home.

  • Almost a quarter are using a personal laptop (23%) for homeworking and more than two fifths (43%) are storing work files on their personal device.

  • Only a third (37%) of financial services staff said their employer has helped them to make adequate provisions to work from home long-term.

  • While almost a quarter (23%) of FS workers said they need their company to act urgently to enable them to work productively from home during the lockdown.

  • A further two fifths (40%) of workers said they need their company to invest in longer-term solutions.

  • The survey on working from home comes just over a year after BNY Mellon banned its UK staff from working from home in March 2019, before quickly reversing the decision.

  • Prior to the coronavirus pandemic less than two-thirds of FS workers (63%) said they always had the ability to work from home when they needed to.

  • The research has been collected by Atlas Cloud, an award-winning IT provider which delivers IT services on behalf of Experian, Lycetts, Northstar Ventures and Shire Leasing Plc.

  • Financial services worker on average are encountering 1.5 technological problems each while working from home.

    The areas where financial services workers said they needed improvement in their home-working setup included:

    • Almost half (47%) who said their work was hampered by the poor performance of their home internet connection
    • Almost a quarter of workers (22%) complained of having to log in to too many separate software packages and apps while working from home
    • One in five workers (20%) said they could not access the computer files they need while working from home
    • Almost a sixth of workers (17%) said the quality of the laptop, desktop or tablet they were using to work on from home was negatively affecting their work productivity

  • A study or home office is the most common place for financial services staff to work from home accounting for more than quarter (28%) of responses.

  • More than a fifth (22%) said they are working from the living room, while 20% are working in their bedroom, and 18% in the dining room.

  • More than half of financial services workers are working on a laptop or desktop supplied by their employer prior to the coronavirus pandemic (54%).

  • However, almost a quarter (23%) of workers are now working at home on personal laptops and desktops, while a further 23% are working on company laptops bought since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • While the survey showed that 13% of office workers have flagged concerns about their access to computer files while working from home, more than two fifths (43%) of those now working on personal devices are storing business information on those personal devices.

  • By storing business information on personal devices homeworkers are taking information away from the business they work for and potentially opening companies up to security breaches of information held on poorly protected personal devices, which may not be encrypted or even be behind a firewall.

  • Almost one in twelve of those surveyed (7%) said they have no password protection on the computer they are now using while working from home.
  • Three quarters (77%) of workers in the legal profession believe the lockdown has proven they can work effectively from home.
  • Prior to the Coronavirus lockdown only two fifths (41%) of legal workers said they had the ability to work from home when they want – about a fifth lower than workers in the financial services, government and manufacturing sectors where between 63% and 58% of workers could work from home.
  • More than half of legal workers (56%) believe their company should be doing more to help them work productively from home.
  • Less than half (44%) of legal workers said their employer has helped them to make adequate provisions to work from home long-term.
  • While more than a fifth (20%) of legal workers said they need their company to act urgently to enable them to work productively from home during the lockdown.
  • And more than a third (36%) of workers said they need their company to invest in longer-term solutions.
  • More than four fifths of legal staff are working on a laptop or desktop supplied by their employer prior to the coronavirus pandemic (83%).
  • However, more than a sixth of workers (17%) are now working at home on personal laptops and desktops (17%).
  • While a further 10% are working on laptops and desktops bought since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Almost a fifth (18%) of legal workers have flagged concerns about their access to computer files while working from home.
  • Almost two thirds (63%) of those now working on personal devices are storing business information on them, potentially opening legal firms up to security breaches of information held on poorly protected personal devices.
  • By storing business information on personal devices homeworkers are taking information away from the organisation they work for and potentially opening legal firms up to security breaches of information held on poorly protected personal devices, which may not be encrypted or even be behind a firewall.
  • Almost one in thirty of those surveyed (3%) said they have no password protection on the computer they are now using while working from home.
  • The research has been collected by Atlas Cloud, an award-winning IT provider which delivers IT services on behalf of Ward Hadaway, Wellers Law Group, Sintons and Hay & Kilner.
  • The study looked into the working habits of more than 3,000 office workers and more than 100 legal sector workers.

Infographic

A quick visual snapshot of the results:

Get Home Working Done Survey Infographic
Click the image to enlarge or download as a PDF here.

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Methodology

All respondents identified as office-based workers before Britain’s lockdown.

Industry Breakdown

Atlas Cloud’s Views

Pete Watson, Atlas Cloud CEO, weighs in on the findings from the ‘Get Home Working Done’ Survey:

Marking a month since the lockdown was announced, our research shows that the majority of office workers believe they need more help from their employers to cope with the technological challenges of working from home. However, the research also shows that office workers may not be working from home as safely from a business and cyber security perspective as they could be.

This should not at all be a blame game. Businesses and office workers face a national emergency of the kind we have never seen before and the aim for IT support companies is to help British businesses perform as well as they can do during this time.

We anticipate that among the largest changes we’ll see to our working lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is a much larger proportion of Britain’s workforce working from home more often and a change in how British businesses manage their IT and handle business information.

Pete Watson

Pete Watson
CEO, Atlas Cloud

1. Where is Britain working now?

To qualify for the survey, respondents had to identify as an office-based worker before the lockdown. We then asked them where – or if – they are working now.

What is your employment status today?

Almost one third of workers continue in their corporate offices. More on this in Section 2.

Which room are you predominantly working out of at home?

The living room (25.1%) is the most popular room to work out of, closely followed by the study (24.1%).

2. Continuing in the office

A third of office workers are continuing in the company office, we delved into why:

What do you believe is the main reason that you are continuing to work in the company office?

Atlas Cloud’s Views

Two in five respondents reported technology-related aspects keeping them in the office, so we expect to see a shift in IT strategies for many organisations when things start to normalise. There’s an argument to suggest technology can also ensure continued remote productivity, which would see further shifts in strategy.

Pete Watson
CEO, Atlas Cloud

In your opinion, would it be possible for your role to be performed remotely?

3. Home Working - General

In your current role, have you always had the ability to work from home when required?

Almost two-thirds of remote workers haven’t previously had the ability to work from home – showing how well Britain can adapt to serious change when required.

Do you believe your company should be doing more to help you work more effectively from home?

As you might expect, there is a strong correlation between being able to previously work from home and having adequate provisions for remote working.

Which best describes the device you are using to work from home?

Using a personal computer can be a security risk, depending on your IT setup. We explore this further in the next section.

4. Home Working - Security

Working remotely brings potential security risks, it’s important for any responsible company to be aware and stay on top. Here, we explore some of the obvious risks.

Have you stored work files or documents on your personal computer?

This is the most obvious risk associated with remote working. It’s a risk because, anything outside of the corporate network is out of the company’s control, meaning anything could happen to it (whether a deliberate attempt or not). If that’s personally identifiable information, it’s a GDPR concern. If it’s to do with the company’s IP, there could be further ramifications.

Atlas Cloud’s Views

Being able to use personal devices is one thing, having data stored on them is another altogether. Our customers operate Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies with zero added risk, thanks to a controlled hosted solution. It means users can access everything as normal, but nothing is stored on the device – whether or not the user wants to.

Pete Watson
CEO, Atlas Cloud

Which best describes how you access work at home?

While the 6.5% who access with no password protection has a high correlation with those who are using personal devices for work, it’s still a basic security concern. Industry best practice today is to authenticate computing access with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), meaning an additional layer of security on top of password protection – for example, this could be a one-time password retrieved via email, SMS or mobile app.

Which best describes how you access work at home?

Over a quarter of respondents are accessing work via VPN’s, which are best used in edge cases for only a small amount of remote workers. Many recent tech-related news articles have stated that the aging technology isn’t scalable enough. Only around a third of respondents noted that they were using a cloud-based solution (i.e. a hosted desktop or cloud file system) for file storage which, if implemented in a secure way, would be recommended for secure remote working. If you're unsure how best to do this then consider contacting a specialist for cloud consulting.

5. Home Working - Productivity

How has remote working affected Britain’s productivity? Here, we delve into respondents’ opinions of their work effectiveness during lockdown.

While home working, are you able to access all work files and documents required for your role?

Not enabling employees to access particular files is potentially very limiting. With the right policies in place, it shouldn’t be a security risk – no matter where the employee happens to be. With cloud technology, it’s also relatively easy to implement.

While home working, are you able to access all computer applications / software required for your role?

Not having access to key software will grind a business to a halt. Even if applications are stored and ran ‘on-premise’, there are solutions to enable secure access from anywhere. Specialists in application hosting can host most applications, from Sage cloud to graphically intense CAD software.

Atlas Cloud’s Views

Our Application-as-a-Service solution allows secure access to any on-premise application from anywhere. It means employees can access, for example, an on-premise Sage accounting application from anywhere and on any device.

Pete Watson
CEO, Atlas Cloud

In terms of distractions from work, how has the lockdown affected your productivity?

In general, it seems we’re finding that working from home is causing similar levels of distraction as working in the office. Some people can work more effectively, others less so. Our sympathy goes to anyone working from home with children during this time…

In terms of available technology, how has the lockdown affected your productivity?

Almost 1-in-4 respondents blamed technology as a hindrance to their remote working productivity. This coincides with our findings that many believe their employers should be doing more to help them.

In your opinion, would it be possible for your role to be performed remotely?

Only a tiny proportion of respondents now believe they’re unable to work effectively from home; interestingly, over half of us have now realised that home working needn’t be a pipe dream.

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If you would like to see industry-specific responses, to benchmark yourself, please get in touch with the Atlas Cloud team.

About Atlas Cloud

The ‘Get Home Working Done’ survey is published by Atlas Cloud.

Atlas Cloud is an award-winning IT service provider, offering managed services for SMEs and bespoke cloud solutions for larger companies.

As one of the leading managed service providers in the UK specialising in digital workspaces, we believe in office-standard working experiences, regardless of location or device used. Just as effective; just as secure. Employees benefit from flexible lifestyles; employers benefit from greater productivity.

This year, we celebrate 10 years of enabling great work from anywhere. Welcome to IT for the Modern Workplace.

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