As British workers were told to work from home as the nation locked down in late March, most were happy to see the flexibility of remote work finally become a real possibility. However, a new report shows that as companies scrambled to protect their bottom lines, it has often been left to employees to foot the bill for the technologies that make the changes possible.

The report from Lenovo claims that nearly two thirds (63%) of employees purchased new hardware or software to start working remotely, with a quarter partially of entirely funding the upgrades themselves. And these upgrades were not cheap, with UK workers on average spending £271 on new technologies, around £55 more than the global average.

The reports comes from a survey of over 20,000 workers across ten countries around the world, which asked people how their work lives had changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and how they have responded to this “new normal”. And the response was broadly positive, with nearly two thirds of people saying they felt more productive outside the office and nearly half of the UK workers interviewed said they plan to continue working at least partly from home once social distancing rules have been lifted.

However, there have been some downsides as well. Around four fifths of respondents grumbled that they have had to be their own “IT person” while working from home, with companies expecting their employees to know how to install and tie together the half-dozen communication tools we now rely on to keep in touch with our colleagues whilst away from the office. These collections of tools are offered as singular integrated platforms like Gamma’s Horizon Collaborate, but it remains the norm for businesses still to rely on a combination of GMail, Slack, Skype, Zoom, and a number of others tools, much to the confusion of many employees. Indeed, around four fifths of those surveyed by Lenovo said businesses should invest in more tech-related training for employees to make the shift to WFH easier.

Over 70 per cent of people also complained of new or worsening aches and pains while working from home, most notably back pain, neck pain, and eye strain. And others felt more distant from their coworkers now they did not share an office or admitted they struggled with maintaining a healthy division between their work and home life with so much time spent in the same room with little exercise.

Discussing the report, Lenovo’s VP of global user and customer experience, Dilip Bhatia, said he believes the findings provide “valuable insights on the complex relationship employees have with technology as work and personal are becoming more intertwined with the increase in working from home”. He added: “We’re using these takeaways to improve the development of our smart technology and better empower remote workers of tomorrow.”

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