The news that the UK will roll-out widespread vaccination for COVID-19 has given businesses, including us here at Nutbourne Ltd renewed hope of returning to normal by the middle of 2021. For many, it will be a welcome return to normal ways, while for others it will be met with caution and trepidation. One thing is for certain, the challenges of reintegrating a workforce that has become used to working remotely represents a new set of challenges for businesses.
As we plan for life post-Covid-19, Nutbourne Ltd Managing Director Marcus Evans, shares his thoughts on what the return to work will be like, what it means for Nutbourne Ltd and how it will shape the world of IT support, London.
Do You Think The UK Is Ready To Return To Work?
It’s an interesting one. The vaccine is being rolled out in eight steps. Within that are the elderly, extremely vulnerable, care homes and NHS workers. At present, there are no plans to vaccinate anyone under the age of 50 that doesn’t fall into the at-risk categories.
Now, if you look at the working population it is from the ages of 18 to 65 or 70, meaning that the majority of workers won’t be vaccinated. So you will have more or less the entire UK feasibly able to return to work and simultaneously be at risk of catching and spreading COVID-19.
What that means is that the Government will have to perform a U-Turn and start to encourage people to return to work. They’ve spent eight months telling people to avoid contact with one another to prevent the disease from spreading. In that respect, for many workers it will be a worrying time. Equally, I do think there are a lot of people and a lot of companies that are ready, willing and prepared to get back to working in an office and being among their peers and colleagues.
There’s Certainly A Divide Isn’t There?
There is, and that is understandable. Generally speaking, people have approached the Government restrictions in a way that they feel happy and comfortable with. The same will apply with returning to work.
I’ve spoken to a lot of organisations that cannot wait to return in whatever way they can. There are also a lot of organisations that never want to return to an office. Among the workforce that is very much the case too. We are noticing that technical roles and roles that are used to working alone aren’t as fussed about returning to work in an office. By contrast the more sociable roles – marketing, sales and customer relations all want to get back and return a sense of normality to their work.
I think what we will see by the end of Q2 next year is a real spread of organisations that have returned. I don’t think many will return full time and I can see quite a few continuing to work remotely for as long as they get value from it.
How Are You Going To Approach It At Nutbourne Ltd?
At Nutbourne IT services, we made an agreement back in May that we weren’t going to require people to come back into the office in a big way until January. And obviously, given the circumstances, we’ve now rolled back through to Easter. At the moment we have two people in the office every day. We’ve got a rota, everyone is on that rota except people with medical health conditions, and it’s staggered. So different people will be in the office with different people, which is great. It means that we kind of get a little bit of socialisation.
Nutbourne Ltd Discusses What Impact It Thinks A Return To Work Will Have On The UK Workforce?
One thing that isn’t really spoken about is the return to widespread commuting. Those that commuted daily or for most of the week would have had a very real pay rise when they stopped. What does that look like when they all have to go back to the office? Suddenly their income drops again and they may not have reconciled that.
In a wider context, there are quite a lot of questions that haven’t been answered. Do those who had an inadvertent pay-rise need pay rises if they’re returning to commuting? Against a backdrop of high unemployment and Brexit, that’s a very tough decision for a company to make. Equally, if someone can’t afford to get in to work, what does that look like?
From an employment perspective, the job market has the potential to open up. For example, if working remotely is an established norm for the company, there’s no reason you can’t hire someone from 200 miles away. They can work remotely for the majority of the month and come into the office for two or three days. For candidates, it’s a potentially great opportunity. But, as with much of the talk about returning to work, it has to be about the people and their attitudes.
Finally, Do You Think There Will Be A Significant Change In The Way IT Support, LondonIs Delivered?
Yes, I do and I’ve already seen it. It has very much sped up the trend of moving to cloud backup, Londonthis year and not having in-house servers – because why would you have an in-house server if no one’s in-house?
It also means that the laptop has overtaken desktop as the most purchased item. People are getting laptops, because if you have to work from home, or if you’re working from home two, three days a week, suddenly laptops are way more flexible – and also necessary. Consequently, that’s where the buying is going. Desktops are on their way out.
But both of these trends were there anyway. Office 365 was apparent as a trend, as is Gmail and Google Docs. People are just getting used to working more remotely on SaaS platforms and PaaS, in terms of how it looks. It’s just come around into widespread use far more quickly that it would have otherwise.
Who knows what 2021 has to bring? All we know, is we are on hand no matter what, to provide your business with the support it needs. For more information on our cloud backup London, contact us today 0203 137 7273.