Large Scots firms encouraged to adapt as home working gains acceptance

Scotland’s big companies are being encouraged to “get ahead of the game” after more than half said they see increased working from home as a “permanent business model”, according to a new study.

Edinburgh-based Speak With Impact – a public speaking and presentation training firm – has highlighted a survey from the Scottish Government finding that 54.3 per cent of companies with more than 250 employees said they would use increased homeworking for good following changes brought about by Covid-19.

It added that this is the highest percentage since the start of the pandemic, and marks a considerable jump from January, when just a third of such businesses said they saw remote working as an enduring change.

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The findings were gathered from a survey of 1,133 businesses of all sizes in Scotland between October 4 and 17.

Firms can adapt with meetings and important presentations being conducted in a hybrid format, Speak With Impact says. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

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The Business Insight and Conditions Survey asked firms if they intended to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward. Just 18.4 per cent said they weren’t planning to change, with the remainder unsure.

Looking at specific sectors, 68.1 per cent of companies in information and communication anticipated increased homeworking, for example.Speak With Impact director Gavin Brown – formerly Scotland’s shadow finance secretary – said: “Businesses across Scotland have adapted to the changes brought about by Covid-19 and are now thinking about the long-term future.

“This survey shows the majority see increased homeworking as a permanent fixture, and that’s going to change how we do business.

“In order to capitalise on this, companies in Scotland should be thinking about how crucial meetings and presentations will take place, and what they will need to do to make the most of them.”

He suggested that such business activities could be conducted in a hybrid format, continuing by saying: “These attitudes will be shifting not just in Scotland, but across the UK and indeed the rest of the world. This would be a good opportunity for Scottish businesses to get ahead of the game and ensure they are ready to make the most of a hybrid working future.

“If done correctly, there will be significant rewards for investors, business-owners and workers, and of course the wider Scottish economy.”

Flexible

A separate survey has found that more than three fifths of Scottish workers say recent events have helped companies to improve their approaches to flexible working.

Insurer Aviva also said 16 per cent of such employees surveyed said they saw being able to work from home some of the time as essential, compared to 18 per cent across the UK.

That was followed by the ability to work from home all of the time and the option to go part time – both seen as deal-breakers for 12 per cent. Additionally, 49 per cent of staff north of the Border plan to make changes to their careers in the next year, down from 53 per cent earlier this year.

Nicki Charles of Aviva General Insurance said: “Although flexibility at work was growing in popularity before the pandemic, the Covid-19 outbreak has expedited progress. Benefits that were once seen as luxuries are now being viewed as essentials.

“While the pandemic has been devastating in so many ways, people are seeking out silver linings – and a more progressive approach towards working is just one of these outcomes.”

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