British workers have picked up at least two new career driven rituals during lockdown

Overworked man having a nap sleeping at laptop with sticky notes everywhere, tired of office multitasking work indoor. Selective Focus

Additional time on people’s hands as a result of the pandemic has prompted the average British worker to pick up a range of good habits for their careers, according to a new study by Hitachi Capital Business Finance. 

The poll of 1,500 British workers in small businesses, made up of remote, hybrid, outdoor and workplace based respondents from a range of sectors, revealed that three-quarters (74%) have developed new rituals during lockdown, with the average worker picking up at least two new habits.

Asking about their intentions to continue these habits for at least the next 12 months, 91% of respondents said they would.

The most common habit was spending significantly more time developing their online professional network (30% of British workers). This was followed by attending more online conferences and seminars than they ever had previously (27%). 

Swotting up – Over a quarter had made use of the time by actively studying – be it through reading business books (27%) or further learning courses (26%). One in five (22%) had spent more time mentoring young people than they had previous to the pandemic.

Trade press – Similarly, almost a quarter spent more time than previously reading trade magazines and websites (23%), or listening to industry relevant podcasts (22%). A further 19% had actively written articles for industry press or their own blogs.

Just over one in six (19%) said they were able to start a side business during lockdown.

Remote workers capitalising on additional time most

The research highlighted distinct advantages remote workers had enjoyed during the past 18 months over those who continued to work from a designated or on site workplace. Almost nine in 10 (86%) remote or hybrid workers said they had made the most of additional time on their hands during lockdown. By contrast, just seven in 10 (71%) of on-site workers said they had done the same.

Specifically, remote workers were significantly more likely to have developed their online network as site-specific workers (26% vs. 16%), attended online courses to further their careers (23% vs. 16%), or spent time mentoring younger members of staff (22% vs. 16%). Interestingly, remote workers were almost twice as likely to have worked on a side business during lockdown (11% vs. 20%). 

Similarly, those planning to work either remotely or in a hybrid set up by the end of this year were significantly more likely to say they would continue to these habits for at least the next 12 months, than those who were going back to the office/workplace (86% remote workers vs. 71% work-place based).

Joanna Morris Head of Insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance: “Today’s figures show us the silver lining of what has been a very bleak time for many businesses, and some good news for the future. While many of us at the start of lockdown may have had well-intentioned aspirations to use the additional time to become, for instance, master bakers or concert pianists, it is fair to say few of us actually succeeded with these aims. The positive that comes from these results is, when it comes to developing business skills and networks, there was an overwhelmingly high proportion of the country who really have made the most of the situation, and used the change circumstances to their benefit. As we enter into the next phase, it is encouraging to see such a high proportion have resolved to maintain their new habits as the world returns to normal.

“We also have the reminder in the research that the challenges associated with the pandemic can vary hugely from one small business to another. One in eight simply did not have additional time on their hands, so the option of using this time to their benefit simply did not apply. This importance of keeping skills sharp, maintaining networks, or staying up to date with the latest developments cannot be understated, and the gap between those that do and those that don’t will widen quickly. For those without a huge amount of time available, having realistic goals picking one or two simple things that can be done well will have benefits in the long term.”

New habits workers picked up/did more of than before the pandemic with the additional time they had on their hands

 TotalWorkplace – Office / factory / on site workplaceOutdoors – e.g. gardener, farmer, construction, direct sales etc.)Remote workers – those working from home and/or Hybrid set up
Attended online conferences / seminars20%20%14%22%
Written articles/ pieces for industry press / blogs14%12%17%19%
Developed online social network (e.g. LinkedIn)22%16%25%26%
Started new side business14%11%12%20%
Career development courses / further learning19%16%13%23%
Read books on business / by business leaders20%22%22%20%
Read trade/industry magazines and websites more frequently17%18%20%20%
Listened to industry-relevant podcasts/programmes16%15%13%17%
Mentoring/training for young people16%16%20%22%
Not applicable – I did not have more time during lockdown that I would have otherwise12%14%15%5%
Not applicable – I did not use this time to do anything additional14%15%9%9%

New habits picked up during lockdown

Total
Developed online social network (e.g. LinkedIn)30%
Attended online conferences / seminars27%
Read books on business / by business leaders27%
Career development courses / further learning26%
Read trade/industry magazines and websites more frequently23%
Listened to industry-relevant podcasts/programmes22%
Mentoring/training for young people22%
Written articles/ pieces for industry press / blogs19%
Started new side business19%
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