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Lockdown improving communication and productivity; say UK businesses

Businesses and workers have had to find a new normal during the lockdown, with many businesses having to furlough staff or transition to a completely remote team. Our new study takes a look at how businesses are making the change and ensuring they keep lines of communication open and staff working efficiently.

In a recent study, we asked business owners and decision-makers about their new working habits, now that coronavirus has forced managers and owners to change the structure of many workplaces. The new laws on social distancing and business working conditions have meant that many companies have had to make drastic changes to the way they manage and communicate with their teams and customers.

Our study revealed that 74% of businesses had made the transition to a predominantly home-based team, so we took a look at how these companies have changed their workflow in order to accommodate the new environments of their workers.

Making the decision to close or move to remote working

When it was announced that many businesses would have to make drastic changes to their work environments, many made the transition to a remote team fairly quickly. However, for others, it was not as straightforward. Specialist software, equipment or business models meant that difficult decisions had to be made.

Over a third of companies we surveyed said that they had now transitioned to a completely remote team, with a further 16% saying that around 90% of their workforce was now working from home, and 19% saying around 75-90% of their team was now home-based.

However, for some businesses, remote working is simply not an option, with 9% saying that they have had to close their doors completely.

Many companies now face the decision of whether to furlough staff in order to save jobs and their businesses. 59% of the businesses we talked to said that they had already had to furlough staff or were having to seriously consider it, in order to keep things running.

Interestingly, 23% of those surveyed said that their staff had never worked from home before the lockdown.

Investing in software for efficient home-based working

With a large number of companies now having to operate out of the homes of their employees, new or revised ways of communication and working have had to be implemented. Where meetings and face to face conversations once helped employees to keep working efficiently, technology has now had to take their place, in order to help those in isolation.

Many employees will be familiar with the equipment they use day to day in order to complete their work, but when forced to do this outside of the workplace, things can be tricky. Some employees may find that the equipment they have available at home does not meet the standard of that in their workplace. This has meant that 38% of businesses have had to invest in extra software or technology.

The biggest challenge was around ways of communication, not just between teams but also between the companies and their customers. Where once customers or clients could call a business direct, now personal mobile or home landline numbers are being used.

Some 42% of businesses shared that they are receiving a lot less calls at the moment. Over a third, however, say that they are experiencing a lot more calls. Furthermore, 23% say they are receiving about the same number of calls as before lockdown.

Many companies have had to adopt technology that they wouldn’t usually use, such as instant messaging services like WhatsApp. Just under half of the businesses we surveyed said that they had been required to implement software, such as an Intranet or social platform, in order to keep lines of communication open and clear.

The most likely used communication software is:

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Intranet, e.g. Workplace
  • WhatsApp
  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • Trello

The importance of communication during a pandemic

The importance of communication has been reinforced during the lockdown, with many realising the value of good communication between their teams. Most businesses have taken extra precautions by investing in online tools, to ensure communication stays efficient during isolation.

Over a third of businesses highlighted that their communication within the business has actually improved and they are talking more than ever. However, 25% admitted that communication in the business is worse as it’s difficult to keep in touch.

At this time, businesses are also seeing the benefit of having a direct line to their customers and clients. With online or phone communication the only way to interact, 43% said that calls and live chats are more important than ever, due to companies desperate to keep things afloat.

The pandemic has definitely been a huge learning curve for many businesses. Although most have shown to have made the transition fairly smoothly, it has put a strain on those that are unable to do so. Communication has always been an integral part of effectively running a business and that has never been more true than right now.

How can Moneypenny help? 

If your business needs help transitioning to home working why not get in touch with us to discover how our telephone answering service could help your business. Or find out how we’re trying to keep businesses talking with our free digital switchboard service.

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