5 Key Takeaways From The Switch To Remote Work In the UK

Published on 30/04/2020 by Matt Mullarkey-Toner

Businesses around the world have been forced to confront COVID-19 while staying open. The world of remote work and by extension, remote work software, has become the norm. 

We surveyed 491 respondents (for a full methodology*, scroll to the bottom of the page) to see how businesses and employees were handling the move to remote work, whether they’ve been using new tools, and what the challenges and benefits of remote work have been. 

People communicating virtually while they work remote.

Highlights of Capterra’s remote work survey

Despite the obvious stress people are feeling right now, the results painted an optimistic picture of many companies quickly switching to remote work and employees overall enjoying the change. 

Highlights of the survey include:

  1. 60 percent were working in the office, but are now working full-time remote (77 percent of workers are now remote)
  2. 43 percent of employees were given new tools 
  3. 76 percent of companies have changed some or all of their offering so it can be delivered virtually
  4. The main benefits of working remotely include no commute (37%) and casual dress code (27.9%)
  5. The main challenges to working remotely are loneliness (26%) and internet connectivity (25%)

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the 5 takeaways we learned from our survey about the UK’s transition to remote working. 

Most workers have gone remote and enjoy it

Working remotely has been a widely discussed topic in the UK, but the crisis hasn’t left any room for debate. Businesses needed to drastically adjust the way they were run and have their employees work from home. Prior to the crisis, remote work wasn’t common but it also wasn’t unheard of with 17% respondents saying they were already working remotely.

The overall reception to working remotely has been positive with 67% of respondents saying they liked working from home (46% liked it and 21% really liked it). This is encouraging because it means workers are in higher spirits regarding their professional situation, despite the lockdowns.   

Key takeaway: Don’t fix something that isn’t broken. People have enjoyed remote work which is encouraging, especially if an extended lockdown exists in some form. It can be tempting to have everyone in the office every day, but you should allow for a more flexible remote work schedule. If you are concerned about not staying as organised while working from home, check out project management or task management software. 

A massive change has led to rapid software adoption that’s gone smoothly

With so many businesses abruptly working remotely, a lot of businesses quickly needed to look into tools to make sure operations continued. 43% of respondents said that they’ve had to adopt a new tool since the start of the crisis, and 25% said their company was planning on buying some. 

Remote working software adoption UK
Infographic 1: Remote working software adoption in the UK.

Thankfully, using new tools has been easy. When asked how difficult it’s been to learn how the new tools worked, 44% of respondents said that it was “easy to use” and 25% said it was “very easy” to use. 

Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to implement new software in your company. However, you should also include the perspective of relevant employees when you are shopping around. Get their input as to what they think would be effective and easy to use. They’ll likely be using the software as much as you (if not more), so you’ll want to ensure it’s a good fit.

Companies had to quickly adapt their offerings for the crisis

We asked if businesses have had to adapt their offering so that it could be delivered virtually. The vast majority of respondents said yes.

A total of 76% of companies have had to adapt their offerings so that they can be delivered virtually, and if you include companies that already had virtual products, that number rises to 87%. 

Key takeaway: If 87% of businesses have at least some part of their product offered virtually, you should as well. Obviously, some businesses are more conducive to a more digital product, but you don’t necessarily need a massive overhaul to get a digital boost to your business.

For example, scheduling software can automate a lot of time that could be spent on the phone with clients or in your calendar. Email marketing software can help you keep in touch with your clients. Divide clients into segments for refined targeting and streamline your email marketing strategy. 

Benefits since working remotely include no commute and a casual dress code

When asked about the benefits of working remotely, the most chosen answer was no commute, and that’s not surprising. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) said in a 2018 report that the average person in the UK spends 58 minutes getting to and from work. It was even worse for Londoners whose average commute was 1 hour and 21 minutes going to and from work. So it’s not surprising that people in the UK enjoy getting nearly an extra hour every day that would normally be spent stuck in traffic or on public transport.

Remote working employee benefits in UK
Infographic 2: Remote working benefits highlighted by UK employees.

Other benefits included a casual dress code (27%) and no distractions from colleagues (also 27%). This suggests people feel a bit more comfortable working at home and it’s easier to stay focused. There’s also a much stronger trust between employers and employees who both have had to become more flexible with one another since the start of the crisis. 

Key takeaway: Trust between employers and employees can go a long way. During a time when many don’t know if or when their children can go back to school, flexibility and understanding of circumstances at home are deeply important for employees.

And don’t ignore that “no commute” was the top response to this question. Take into account the toll a long commute can have on an employee’s work-life balance as you develop or adjust a remote work policy. 

The most-reported challenges involve communication, technology, and loneliness

Despite the positive news mentioned above, there have been difficulties when working from home. While employees have enjoyed teleworking, the isolation from colleagues has put a strain on workplace communication and mental health. 

remote working employee challenges
Infographic 3: Remote working challenges according to the UK’s workforce.

This is to be expected when so many companies have had to radically change their communication methods. Although a company might have had collaboration software to chat or discuss work strategies, it wasn’t the only option. But now that there are no meetings in the conference room or chats in the breakroom, people have felt more disconnected from their colleagues.

Key takeaway: It’s extremely frustrating when information isn’t communicated clearly, and that can be exacerbated by loneliness or isolation. Keeping this in mind:

  • When managing remote workers, Gartner recommends that you should be on the lookout for signs of distress. A good idea is to conduct regular check-ins with employees. These don’t have to be formal, but instead should be personal and focused on their wellbeing.
  • Triple-check that your communication is easy to understand (ask a colleague for advice) and don’t overwhelm your employees with memos and emails
  • Come up with a specific plan for what your employees should do if they are having IT problems. It can be as simple or coherent as you like —a designated IT Support person, or even bug tracking or help desk software. More importantly, make sure it’s consistent and clearly-explained.  

A remote workplace is built on trust and flexibility

Despite a serious crisis, employers and employees across the UK have started adapting their product for virtual offerings, increased trust between one another, and quickly adapted to a radically different day-to-day workplace. 


*Survey methodology

To collect the data from this report, we conducted an online survey between 1st April 2020 and 8th April 2020. The responses come from a sample of the Australian market. Of the 773 people who participated in the survey, we were able to identify 491 respondents that fit within our criteria:

  • UK resident
  • Employed by a small or mid-sized business
  • Employed full-time or part-time
  • Working remotely as a response to COVID-19.

The participants come from various business sectors and levels of seniority. 

Note: Infographics 2 and 3 had multiple response options, so the total sum of the percentages exceed 100%.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.