Chancellor announces extension to job retention scheme

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced that the UK’s job retention furlough scheme will continue until the end of October. There will be no reduction in the 80% as originally set out, but the government will try to encourage more workers to return to the workplace if it is safe to do so from August. Non-furloughed workers may not be able to return to office environments until November, subject to government guidelines.

Are we getting tired of working from home?

Workers who previously spent their days in offices may be becoming “tired” of working from home: but it’s no reflection on the collaboration itself. Rather, working parents are discussing their concerns over educating children, as well as suffering from so-called “Zoom fatigue”.  Britain’s workers are being advised to take regular exercise and breaks to look after their mental health.

Twitter will allow “most employees” to WFH

It seems not everybody shares the same opinions of working from home. For some, it spells an increase in productivity and more time to spend with family. Social networking giant Twitter has told its 5,000 employees that they can work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic passes, claiming that they were in a “unique position” to be able to offer this new flexibility.

Managers may be the last people to adjust to remote collaboration

Over in the US, up to two thirds of workers claim their lives have improved as they have adjusted to remote collaboration. However, according to a KPMG survey of 1,000 employees, managers had the hardest time adjusting to remote collaboration. They cited issues such as work/life balance and more demanding/overwhelming day to day work. Leaders are the “glue that holds remote workers together” and need to adjust to prosper through this pandemic.

The next challenge for CIOs

Chief Innovation Officers are facing more challenges than most when it comes to remote collaboration. However, with this way of working look set to change the foreseeable future, CIOs are now looking ahead to their next challenge. Now that their true worth is being seen from an IT perspective, their ongoing objectives are to ensure business continuity, foster new ways of working and prepare for future crises, says Mark Samuels at ZDNet.

“Working from home” peaks in search trends

Google has reported a 100 per cent rate in “interest over time” for the search term “working from home”. Searches for the query peaked between 15th and 21st March, just two days before the UK government announced official lockdown. Based on its ranking index from 0 to 100, Google states that the term reached “peak popularity” worldwide during this week, having only ranked at 7 out of 100 during the last week of February.

Want to be more productive? Play music

Those struggling to adapt to the home office environment are being told to play music to boost their productivity. According to Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience, our favourite playlists can improve cognitive performance, manage anxiety and increase motivations. However, the music needs to reflect the listener’s mood, for example, slow and calm in the morning, transitioning into beats of up to 121 bpm as the day wears on.

Enter the new age of collaboration

Experts at Computer World claim we’re entering a “new age of collaboration” where conferencing and project management tools push us forward. However, it’s also highlighted the need to fix teething problems with tools such as Zoom, while remote workers are being encouraged to “think like a developer” in order to collaborate successfully. Author Eric Knorr says that the principles of leadership and managing group dynamics still apply, whether we’re in the office or not.

Expenses offered to those working from home

Finance guru Martin Lewis is raising awareness of claims new remote workers can make for any expenses they incur setting up a home office. Though the compensation on offer is modest at £24 a month, it is highly appealing for those worried about job security amidst the latest furloughing measures. Lewis claims the £24 a month could contribute towards higher utility bills as a result of being in the house for longer periods of time. Workers can claim through their employer or through the HMRC.

“Move past conference calls” to really progress

Remote workers are being advised to go beyond standard conference calls if they really want to collaborate successfully. Business and finance journalist Leonard Callejo warns that, while video calling apps are designed to increase flexibility, teething problems are actually causing more problems. Instead, he advises talking to employees transparently, enacting a “culture of change” and establishing clear goals, as led by example.