Mirror Online, UK: Saturday, May 2, 2020 – Offices are set to be closed for months, with companies adjusted to having staff working from home during the lockdown, new research shows.

According to the Institute of Directors (IoD), many employers have brought in changes which they intend to keep in place as restrictions ease.

More than a third plan to step up digital training for employees in coming months, with companies adjusting to a “new normal”.

It is likely that any relaxing of the existing lockdown will include an instruction for as many people as possible to continue working from home.

In recent weeks staff have adjusted to holding meetings online and working from their kitchen tables and sofas.

In a survey of hundreds of business leaders, four out of ten said their organisation had made adjustments that they intend to keep in place after lockdown.

Increased working from home and a greater focus on digital services were common actions directors expected to continue in the long term.

Businesses have been innovating in response to the lockdown, with almost one in six of those polled reporting that they had launched a new product or service due to the circumstances.

Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “The coronavirus crisis is throwing up colossal challenges for business, but directors are nothing if not adaptable.

“Lockdown means few businesses can operate as they used to and, as a result, many companies are finding a way to innovate through the obstacles.

“The solutions they create might just end up becoming the new normal.”

And he continued: “The country’s digital and management skills are under the spotlight, and despite everything, there is still appetite among businesses to help their people continue developing.”

The existing lockdown in the UK is in place until May 7, but the government has said it will not consider lifting restrictions until it is confident there won’t be a second peak.

As the UK’s lockdown enters its seventh week, Boris Johnson has promised to share a “roadmap” for how some of the strictest measures will be gradually eased.

At the Downing Street briefing on Thursday, the Prime Minister claimed Britain is past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak and that he will reveal a comprehensive plan on how the nation will get back to work and school next week.

However preventing a second wave of deadly infections is vital and professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, has warned that “We are nowhere near the end of this epidemic.”

In order to keep the ‘R’ – the number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – below one, any relaxing of restrictions will be gradual.