UK manufacturing & industrial engineering not prepared for home working, research reveals

18 March 2020


New research from employee experience & workplace performance experts, Leesman suggests that UK manufacturing & industrial engineering is one of the least prepared industries to implement & weather a mass home working strategy, in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

Leesman has surveyed more than 700,000 employees worldwide. Of the 52,240 of those working in the manufacturing and engineering space within its Leesman Index, 53% have no home working experience, compared with 52% of overall respondents globally.
With Covid-19 elevated to pandemic status by the World Health Organization (WHO), major companies including Apple, Starbucks, Twitter and Facebook are now advising employees to work from home in a bid to curb the outbreak and protect their workforce. Many British businesses have released Covid-19 contingency plans, including compulsory home working policies, and some have begun to close sites and ban external visitors.
While the UK government asks even mildly sick people to stay home, leading researchers have suggested British workers who can work from home should be advised to do so, regardless of whether they are symptomatic, to reduce their risk of contracting coronavirus and fuelling the outbreak by spreading it to others.
But the data suggests the manufacturing and engineering space must brace itself for reduced productivity and innovation. Of the employees across the industry that do work from home occasionally, 90% typically do so for just one day a week or less, and just 0.5% work from home for more than four days per week. What’s more, only 35% of sporadic home workers in the industry have a dedicated room to work from.
The main risks with home working include a reduced sense of community (-21.1%), social interaction (-20.4%), knowledge transfer (-25.8%) and learning from others (-11.0%).
In light of the actions that businesses are having to take in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Leesman is mobilising research tools that will enable employers across the private and public sector to support the newly remote workforce.
The Leesman Index rating, which covers more than 90 indicators of the physical, virtual and social workplace infrastructures, shows how employees are supported and monitors key economic indicators, like personal and collective productivity, knowledge transfer and pride.
Tim Oldman, Leesman CEO said: “Home working will undoubtedly prove pivotal in limiting the impact of coronavirus crisis. But the data suggests that many employers and employees across the manufacturing and engineering space will be out of their depth should British businesses be forced into lockdown. Our advice is for organisations to quickly quantify where their main obstacles will be and seek support. We know how and why corporate offices impact employee sentiment, but have significantly less understanding of even the short-term impact of dispersing teams to environments designed for living, not working. Industries must brace themselves – but the manufacturing and engineering space must remain one of the most cautious.
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About Leesman
Leesman is the world’s leading measure of employee workplace experience. Founded in 2010 by CEO Tim Oldman, Leesman provides quarterly insights into the world of workplace and business intelligence via the Leesman Review, based on a global reach database of over 4,800 workplaces across 96 countries and more than 700,000 respondents internationally. In addition to this, Leesman regularly publishes research reports on key topics and areas of focus led by Chief Insights & Research Officer, Dr. Peggie Rothe.
Leesman measures employee experience via the Leesman Index – a global business intelligence tool that captures employee feedback on how effectively the workplace supports them and their work. The consequent findings provide organisations with critical insight into how a building is performing. Performance is then benchmarked against the world’s largest statistically robust employee experience database.

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