Devising new property strategies and prioritising investment in technology are just two changes we can expect to see from businesses post-lockdown, predicts Cheltenham-based BPE Solicitors.
The Government’s instruction for everyone to work from home where possible accelerated the prevalence of remote working on a mass scale. According to the Office for National Statistics, just 5% of the UK’s workers were mainly home-based in 2019, and 30% had experienced working from home occasionally. The requirement for social distancing changed the operating model for most businesses overnight.
However, having quickly updated protocols and IT infrastructure to enable widespread homeworking during the pandemic, it is thought the success at transitioning to remote working will influence future business strategies.
“Now that businesses realise it’s possible to operate effectively with widespread remote working, it casts a new light on old business models,” comments John Workman, Senior Partner at BPE.
“The trend for open-plan offices and collaborative workspaces, often densely populated, may cause challenges for implementing social distancing measures which seem likely to be required post-lockdown. And, while the reason for today’s remote working is devastating, there may be aspects of working from home that are valued by employees and that they may be reluctant to lose. In addition, as businesses re-write their financial forecasts, an operating model that relies less on bricks and mortar may present an opportunity to reduce fixed costs.
“At the same time, by prioritising investments in IT infrastructure and software, it’s possible to increase productivity and, quite frankly, work-life balance and job satisfaction. In almost every sector, artificial intelligence (AI) is making it possible to reduce repetitive but necessary tasks, freeing up people to practise their specialist skills and manage client and colleague relationships.
“All these factors have influenced our own decision, at BPE, to revise our property strategy and not renew the lease on our second office space at Stonehouse. In the past, we thought we needed to offer our colleagues a physical space to work closer to their home and clients in the Stroud Valleys. It was also a contingency location, in the event that our HQ in Cheltenham was not operational. Now, in consultation with our colleagues, we realise that we can give all our staff the flexibility to work from home or HQ, supporting all our clients, everywhere.
“We’ve also re-prioritised our investment in AI that helps our teams with tasks such as proofing lengthy technical contracts with speed and accuracy, so that they can concentrate on their specialisms and providing guidance to clients.
“None of us can be certain what future challenges we face, but it’s clear for every business that we must continue to learn and adapt to new models of working in life after lockdown.”