Spain has enforced Home Working for all non-essential businesses, Is the UK set to follow?

On Sunday, Spanish authorities said that 838 people had died from Covid-19 over the past 24 hours. This brings the country’s death toll to 6,528. Therefore, starting on Monday, March 30th,  the Spanish government has decreed that all non-essential workers are ordered to stay at home; The lockdown is no longer optional.

This has caught many Spanish businesses unprepared; with many companies currently operating on a split system where small groups would carry out essential business activities in the office while the bulk of employees worked from home. This has caused many Spanish companies to struggle to come up with ways to meet this new requirement while continuing to function, even in a limited capacity in the coming weeks.

On March 23rd the UK government issued new rules that requires people to only leave their homes to shop for basic necessities including medicine, exercise once a day, leave the home to take care of mandatory health requirements or to go to work if they could not work from home. These rules will be in place for three weeks until the 13th of April. But as stated during the daily government briefing given on Sunday, the 29th of March, it is to be expected that the rules will remain in place or become more stringent at the point of reassessment, remaining in place until at least June. The UK currently lists as eighth in the world for ‘number of infections’ and seventh in the number of deaths associated with the virus.[1]

Research suggests that if the UK adopts the stronger, Spanish approach of full lockdown of non-essential companies, UK firms are ill-prepared to handle the consequences. Often home workers rely on office based staff to access sensitive information on their behalf, with home working setup limited to email, documents that can be emailed and phone routing. This approach will quickly become completely impractical if firms need to operate this way for an extended period in full lockdown mode.

Providers of secure network access solutions for SME companies, services that allow home workers to have full secure access to the office network,  are seeing a big uptick in requests for information. Surveys show that many of these service providers are now having difficulty meeting the new demand. It is anticipated that the demand will increase further, as the end of the initial lockdown period grows closer when more stringent rules may be imposed by the government.

[1] Source: Johns Hopkins University, national public health agencies