Working from home over the last 12 months has been the only option for many British workers, but is it allowing them to enjoy work?
Lockdown Forced Many To Work From Home
Rising COVID-19 cases and the enforcement of multiple lockdowns have resulted in remote working for most businesses. And for many workers, the flexibility of remote working has been a positive change. However, for thousands of others, it has had a negative impact on physical and mental wellbeing and productivity.
Fall In Productivity
Studies show that there was a record fall in output per worker of 19.9% in quarter 2 of 2020. Could it be that remote working has resulted in many people finding it impossible to enjoy work and this is impacting the quality of their work?
A recent survey by Forbes certainly suggests this. According to their research…
“Working From Home Is Disliked By And Bad For Most Employees”
Many Workers Do Not Enjoy Working From Home
Respondents in the survey cited longer hours, more virtual meetings and blurred lines between work and personal life as a major complaint.
“The survey found a significant decline in mental health across all industries, seniority levels, and demographics. Job satisfaction, job motivation, and company satisfaction were also negatively affected.”
Figures aso showed that the majority of employees do not like working from home with 27% saying that they do not like working from home, but think their company is doing the best. However, 32% dislike working from home and also don’t think their company is handling the pandemic situation well.
This certainly suggests a high level of employees who are unable to enjoy work in their current circumstances working from home.
One of the key reasons for being unable to enjoy work whilst working from home is the feeling of isolation.
Working From Home Can Be Lonely
Many home workers say that the experience feelings of loneliness as a result of extended periods working alone. This is especially noticeable for people who are used to working in an office or as part of a team that works in the same space.
Whilst working alone it is much harder to communicate with colleagues, discuss issues and have catch-up conversations. This is especially difficult for workers who are facing challenging or traumatic situations. Working amongst colleagues provides motivation, guidance, boosts creativity.
Loneliness isn’t just a problem when it comes to workers being able to enjoy work, it affects profitability to. Workers who feel lonely are estimated to take twice as many sick days and demonstrate less commitment and weaker performance.
Many businesses are using video calls as a way to connect with their workers, however this doesn’t suffice as a long term solution. Most workers need other people around them in order to work well which indicates that a return to the office is vital to improve employee wellbeing.
Training & Career Development
For many businesses, training and employee mentoring is a huge part of their business development strategy. However this has become very difficult to carry out due to teams working remotely from each other.
Whilst training can be carried out online it is much more difficult for leaders to identify occasions where training is needed. Peer to peer support and mentoring has been impacted even more so. Employee’s working remotely are much less likely to ask a question or reach out for advice when this requires them to send an email or pick up the phone rather than having a quick chat. This disconnect in communication can also make feedback and collaboration extremely difficult which leaves employees feeling isolated and unhappy.
The relationships and friendships both professionally and personally within a business should never be underestimated. The conversations and exchanges of expertise at lunch or whilst grabbing a glass of water are a key part of strength within a team.
These “water-cooler moments” are key when building a strong relationship between different roles and personalities and are often where teams get to know each other best. For employees to expand their knowledge and managers to identify areas of learning these face-to-face interactions need to happen.
Blurred Lines Between Work And Home
Whilst working from home it can be very difficult to divide work time from personal time. Especially if like so many you are working from a bedroom or kitchen table. Trying to work whilst your family are watching TV or carrying out conversations is very difficult.
Maintaining a good work-life balance has become a really challenging issue for people working from home.
Research by enterprise communication platform 8×8 highlights the struggles faced by employees who are working from home. The survey questioned 1,000 people working from home full-time since the start of the pandemic. Respondents in the survey listed the following reasons that they were unable to enjoy work whilst working remotely:
- The blurring of the lines between personal and professional life (40%)
- An inability to unplug from the ‘always-on’ virtual working day (38%)
“A staggering 42% of those said they felt more stressed and overwhelmed than when in the office.”
One of the biggest issues raised by the study is the use of personal devices for work.
Personal Laptops And Phones Used For Work
Many businesses have endeavoured to support their workforces whilst they are working from home, however the number of communication tools and apps has actually increased stress for employees.
In the survey carried out by 8×8 36% of respondents felt they were using too many apps for workplace communication with 42% saying that they were using between six to 15 different platforms during their working day. (2% reported using 16 to 20, or more.)
Exacerbating the problem is the fact that most employees are also using their own personal laptops and smartphones to carry out their work.:
A huge 67% said they were using personal devices for work purposes and 55% said they were using communication apps for work which they would usually only use for personal reasons.
Changes Needed To Help Workers Enjoy Work
The burred lines between work and home are not sustainable in the long term and temporary virtual fixes cannot make up for clearer boundaries between work and home life.
Identifying the failings in working remotely is key to to creating a happier environment for workers post-lockdown. Recognising that everyone works differently and providing employees with the choice to return to the office with safety precautions in place will give those struggling a welcome boost.
In March 2020 the opportunity to work from home was welcomed by many, however 12-months later many opinions have changed. It is so important for business to learn from lockdown and create a happy, healthy work environment.
Remote Working Doesn’t Mean Working From Home
If you are currently unable to work from the office it doesn’t mean you have to work from home. It just means that you need to work remotely. Finding a suitable environment to work in, that provides you with everything you need for a solid day’s work is possible and the perfect solution may be to rent a desk.
If you’re an employee, you could let your manager know about the difficulties you are facing and ask them about the feasibility of such an arrangement. For business owners, renting a desk might be a great way to explore the opportunities that come with premises that you only use for business purposes.
The Future Of Work
Now that we are able to look to the future and a “normal” working practices can return it is clear that working from home is not a long-term solution for many. The key to this is flexibility. This is the perfect opportunity to take the new practices learnt over lockdown and combine them with collaboration and working as a team.
The next step for many business must be creating a working environment that is a happy one for employees. For many this means that getting back to the office is a priority for a happy, healthy and productive workforce.
If you would like to make a happy work environment your priority we offer a huge range of flexible work places and offices. From open plan studios to serviced offices we have a workspace to suit any business, big or small.
You can take a look here… https://wrkspace.co.uk/solutions/Published