“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.

Flexible working policies to become standard

The world’s largest companies are advising their workers to stay at home to combat the coronavirus. Reports from enterprises such as Ford, General Motors and Unilever are all suggesting that teams are switching to remote and flexible working. At present, the UK Government has not proposed a lockdown on working in office spaces. Ann Francke, head of the CMI, said this may “change the workplace forever”.  

Remote working could be a permanent fixture

Technology experts are predicting that many office workers will have no desire to return to the office once the COVID-19 global pandemic is under control. Alex Hern, Technology Editor at the Guardian, notes that tech firms are benefiting most from the current changes to working patterns. However, he also warned that some employees may question “why they needed to be in the office in the first place”. Tech giants such as Microsoft are temporarily waiving fees on collaborative software in the hope that more people will adopt in the future.  

Microsoft Teams suffers as remote workers soar

As more and more UK businesses turn towards working from home, a well-known collaboration tool appeared to have crumbled at the rise in demand. It was reported on Monday 16th March that the Microsoft Teams app suffered a two-hour outage, which affected workers all over Europe.  The problems began at 7am and Microsoft reported that they had been “mitigated” by 10am, but this did not stop competitors such as Slack and Alphabet from taking advantage – their user numbers are by up by 500 per cent.

Many UK businesses are “still not prepared” for remote working

Findings from new research has revealed that many UK businesses are simply not prepared for remote working, despite the current need. A report conducted by VoIP provider 8X8 revealed that a staggering 41 per cent of companies had no formal remote working policies in place, while 15 per cent of companies allowed no form of remote working whatsoever.

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