Despite widespread disruption caused by Covid-19, employee productivity remains remarkably resilient, according to new research.
Willis Towers Watson found two-third of companies of the companies surveyed said the majority of their staff (at least 75 per cent) were now working from home.
However this has not had a marked effect on productivity. Just 15 per cent of these companies said it had a material negative effect on productivity, with a further 22 per cent reporting a small negative impact. Meanwhile 22 per cent of firms claimed it had no impact, or a positive impact, and one third said they were not sure of the impact.
Willis Towers Watson says that technology is helping to support this change. 85 per cent of employers surveyed say their staff have the technology tools and resources to enable them to word productivity from home for an extended period of time.
The survey shows most of these employers did not have significant numbers of staff working from home prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Around half (56 per cent of employers) said they had less than 10 per cent of employees working from home before Covid-19.
Willis Towers Watson GB leader, rewards line of business Hazel Rees says: “It has been an incredibly challenging time for many businesses as we navigate unchartered waters and take part in what has become the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.
“Technology has been a saving grace during this crisis, helping to keep productivity levels up, while organisations with a greater online presence have been able to continue more effectively and in some cases even thrive.
“Covid-19 has had a profound impact on how work gets done and the longer term implications for employers and employees are far reaching. For employers who have found their employees can be just as productive away from the office, it seems increasingly likely that we will see an accelerated shift towards more agile working, with reverberating effects across the economy.”
Additional findings from the survey demonstrate how companies are focusing on communication and employee wellbeing to support engagement and productivity.
Almost nine out of 10 employers (87 per cent) say they have put in place measures to ensure that people feel supported, from their manager or fellow team members, during the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile almost all (98 per cent) of employers are conducting regular communication to keep all employees updated and engaged and 85 per cent have implemented a virtual or social engagement initiative. Three quarters (83 per cent) of companies said they have no end date planned for flexible working arrangements.
Rees adds: “By being flexible in their approach to work arrangements, companies can help their employees adjust to their new situation. Businesses, in turn, will benefit from more productive and engaged workers where they allow individuals to juggle the challenges that Covid-19 brings to them, both inside and outside of work.
“This is a defining leadership moment for many organisations. The employers that take strong action to put people first will be the best positioned to enhance employee wellbeing and engagement, restore stability and achieve future business success.”