More than a quarter of businesses in Wales say increased homeworking will be a permanent feature, according to a new government study.
The Business Insights and Conditions survey, which received more than 8,000 responses from across the UK, found huge numbers of Welsh firms wanted to make changes brought about by Covid permanent.
The work took place between 24 January and 6 February, with 27.1% of Welsh businesses “using, or intending to use, increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward”.
The UK average for responses was 25.3%.
Experts have now said there are opportunities for businesses across Wales to become world leaders in the new hybrid approach, where firms work some of the week at home and some in the office.
Former politician Gavin Brown runs presentation firm Speak With Impact, which has spent much of lockdown working with businesses across the globe in training them how to adapt to a hybrid and virtual future.
He said businesses could use the changing patterns to their advantage, and that there were many benefits to the economy in a hybrid future.
In the survey, 85% of Welsh businesses said they were pursuing the change because it improved staff wellbeing, 45% said it increased productivity, while 52.2% said it would allow them to recruit from a wider geographic pool.
Gavin Brown, director of Speak With Impact, said:
It’s been clear for some time that many businesses across Wales would adopt some degree of hybrid working as a long-term solution.
“This survey shows more than a quarter of businesses now see this as the future. This means we have to prepare at all levels for the change.
“That includes improving training when it comes to using virtual applications like Zoom properly, and serious investment in technology.
“If Wales embraces this, there’s actually a huge opportunity to make it one of the leading hybrid business centres in the world.
“That will boost the economy, increase high-quality employment opportunities and open up the world to businesses who previously operated mainly within these shores.”