Productivity holds up through lockdown

New research finds employers reporting unchanged or improved productivity through lockdown and a willingness to embrace flexible working going forward

The words flexible working written on a post it note next to a keyboard and a pen


The coronavirus pandemic caused a flexible working revolution as employees were forced to stay at home. Six months on from the start of lockdown the research and statistics that will embed those changes is beginning to come through.

In a new survey 83% of companies said they’ll be sticking with flexible and hybrid working going forward.

That’s in large part due to a related finding: 94% of those surveyed said productivity has either stayed the same or increased through lockdown. Two thirds said they’d seen no fall in productivity. 27% said productivity had actually increased.

Three quarters of firms said they’ll be keeping an office in future. But they’ll expect employees to combine some time at a workplace away from the home with some homeworking.


The research, by US consulting firm Mercers, also looked at the hurdles that might impede the switch to a more flexible future.

Intriguingly technology was not cited as a problem. It seems the necessary tech – things like Zoom and Microsoft Teams combined with smartphones and fast broadband – was in place before the pandemic forced their widespread use. However without the push of lockdown firms were not adopting the software that could make them more agile.

Line managers

Nearly two thirds of bosses interviewed for the research said line managers and leaders in their company were their biggest concern. Convincing line managers to embrace flexible working has long been seen as key to improving its availability to workers. And even those that are keen to try it often complain they lack the skills or training to manage a remote team.

A recent report from top US university MIT identified open and regular communication as the most important element of a successful remote workforce. The same research urged bosses to check in on their teams mental health and to be understanding of particular issues working dads might have as well as those looking after older relatives.

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