With many schools going back this week, summer vacations coming to an end and the Covid-19 pandemic entering its sixth month in the U.S., a new survey by leading outsourced communications provider Moneypenny, investigates the effects of this on US businesses and employees. One of the most notable findings is that more men than women are back in the office full time (42% vs 32%)
The survey also demonstrates how certain roles have been affected by the changing workplace, as for example 10% of offices have eliminated the role of the receptionist, with many choosing to divert phone lines to mobiles instead or hire a virtual receptionist company. This trend was particularly marked in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction sector, where 38% of businesses have chosen to let go of this position. 15 % of men in Director and Senior Management roles have started using a telephone answering service compared to only 3% of women. The survey further showed that in the Clerical sector almost 7% of women have chosen to no longer have a receptionist and to either leave a message on their business line asking customers to contact their mobiles or to divert their phones lines.
Small businesses with 50-99 employees have been forced to return to the workplace quicker (74%) than companies with staff in excess of 500 people (59%), yet 22% of all companies are planning a full return to the office in the fall and a further 12% planning to go back in 2021.
In other findings, one third (34%) of those who are back in employment (52%) are still working from home. However, there are large variations across different industry sectors. For those working in Human Resources, more than two-thirds (67%) are still remote working, compared to:
- 56% in finance
- 52% in IT
- 43% of architects and engineers
- 27% in sales, media and marketing
- 21% in travel and transport
- 10% in retail and catering
When it comes to remote working the survey further discovered that 58% of the U.S. employees surveyed were given no help by their employers when they were required to make the shift to remote working. In addition to not receiving support, close to a quarter of these workers (23%) were expected to buy their own equipment. In Georgia 61% of employees were left to fend for themselves at home with South Carolina close behind at 54%.
The Moneypenny survey also looked into how schools are planning to return in the fall and whether this is likely to have an impact on workers. Of the 1040 survey respondents who have school age children:
- More than ¾ of schools (78%) are not opening as normal
- 36% of schools are planning a hybrid return, with some virtual and some in person lessons
- Over one quarter (29%) are only offering virtual lessons for the foreseeable future
- Interestingly, 12.5% of parents are now actively opting for virtual teaching for their children, which marks a significant increase for homeschool as the preferred education model. Traditionally, homeschooling accounted for the education of only 3.4% of school-age children.
However, US workers seem very accepting of the situation: when asked about schools not returning in the fall in the usual way, 66% of parents understand this decision, of which 43% don’t feel it will affect their work at all, while 23% are already set up to work from home. Interestingly 60% of women with manual labour jobs feel it will affect their work compared to only 40% of men in the same roles. Overall only 5% are unhappy as their company has asked them to return and they don’t have childcare in place.
Joanna Swash, CEO of Moneypenny comments: “It’s clear that many companies are relying on their staff having a full home office to enable them to work from home. For employee satisfaction, I would like to see more companies auditing what support their staff need and providing them with the necessary resources. While employees are understandably nervous about the virus, it is positive to see that a significant number of the workforce are happy to work with their company in following the new health and safety rules. We are impressed by how innovative and agile our own clients have been in adapting to the new normal at work.’