Over these past weeks, many of us will have adopted entirely new ways of doing everyday activities, such as attending meetings, completing coursework, joining exercise classes and catching up with friends and family. Likewise, many of us will have realised that all these activities now have one thing in common: a digital screen.
This ‘new normal’ demonstrates exactly what we already suspected – digital technology has transformed our lives. And now, in these unprecedented times, we are utterly dependent on its ability to provide us with a socially-isolated gateway to normal life – work, the high street and entertainment, as well as the comforts of friendship and family we all need at times like these.
But, in reality, the way we work in particular has been changing for a while now. Analysis from Aviva estimates that more than four million UK employees already work from home on a regular basis. That’s a staggering one in seven people who have decided to ditch the daily commute to tackle their to-do list from the kitchen table or home study.
Those who have just joined the homeworking community will now be realising a host of benefits, from spending less time and money on travel, to enjoying a better work-life balance. According to the TUC, the average commuter spends 58 minutes a day getting to and from work. Think of what you could do with that time – take the kids to school, go to the gym, take up a hobby, or even just spend more time relaxing with your loved ones.
There are, of course, environmental benefits too. if more people worked from home then fewer car journeys would be made on a daily basis, reducing fossil fuel consumption daily.
For businesses, it can also drive higher staff retention rates, encouraging loyalty from those seeking a better balance or increased flexibility. With increased homeworking, businesses could also consider moving to smaller, more flexible premises, reducing their carbon footprint further. They might also even have access to an increased talent pool, with homeworking making it possible for people who
may not be able to travel for all sorts of reasons, including disability or caring responsibilities, to enter the workforce.
At a local level, research has shown that worker flexibility will undoubtedly benefit Peterborough’s economy, with a report from economic consultancy, Regeneris stating it could add a huge £30m in value over a 15-year period.
What’s holding us back?
The benefits are clear. But our technology isn’t there yet. A good internet connection is not just a nice to have for homeworkers – it’s a necessity. Unfortunately, home broadband often isn’t fast or reliable enough to make permanent working from home anything more than a pipe dream for parts of the country.
CityFibre-backed research shows that 78 per cent of UK consumers felt slowed down and frustrated by their internet connection. But for homeworkers, that figure increased to 82 per cent. Indeed, almost all homeworkers (99%) agreed that a better connection would enable them to work from home more often, with a third saying that doing so would improve their work-life balance and improve stress.
Change is coming
The solution has to be full fibre digital connectivity. Unlike the legacy copper networks used by most of the country, full fibre is the fastest – and most reliable – option there is. And with the availability of these services constantly increasing, it’s something consumers should look out for when considering their next broadband package.
As key workers, and the nation’s third national infrastructure provider, CityFibre has been asked by the UK Government to continue to expand the nation’s digital capacity. It is investing up to £4bn in bringing full fibre within reach of up to 8 million homes by 2025. In Peterborough, this represents a £30m investment in a new future proof digital infrastructure that will serve the needs of homes and businesses for decades to come.
This investment will help to unlock the workplace – and workforce of the future. Soon, working from home won’t just be something that only a select few can make the most of. Instead, it will be the reality for millions more employees up and down the country.
For more information about CityFibre’s Gigabit City Investment Programme, as well as updates on its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, visit www.cityfibre.com/coronavirus-response/.