Most businesses, particularly in the likes of finance and law, were able to offer remote working during the pandemic, however concerns about staff morale and mental wellbeing are still seen as a barrier to make the change permanent.
Some two-thirds (66%) of businesses surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) were offering remote working to employees.
Nearly three-quarters of the businesses surveyed expect to have at least one employee working remotely over the coming year, with around half of companies expecting just over half of their employees to continue working remotely.
Unsurprisingly there were major sector differences in the results.
Around 80 per cent of B2B services firms like finance and law were able to offer working from home during the pandemic, while just 61 per cent of manufacturers and 54 per cent of B2C services companies like hospitality and retail were able to make the same offer.
More than one in five (21%) B2C services firms were not able to offer any flexible working options at all, in comparison to just seven per cent of B2B service businesses.
When asked what they considered to be a barrier to implementing remote working in their businesses, more than half (55%) of firms made reference to staff morale or mental health and wellbeing.
In addition, 30 per cent pointed to fairness to staff whose role cannot be performed remotely.
There were also major sector differences when asked about barriers, with the likes of manufacturers citing the requirement for physical presence to operate equipment (53%), while in B2C service firms just 35 per cent made reference to physical presence required for their job role.
BCC head of people policy Jane Gratton said: “These results show that nearly three-quarters of firms will now continue to benefit from a remote working option during the coming year.
“But it’s clear that some firms and individuals are facing barriers to remote working with many employers concerned about the impact on team morale and employee wellbeing.”