Lockdown | The real impact of working from home: How a generation of employees navigated remote work

The real impact of working from home: How a generation of employees navigated remote work

With millions of us continuing to work from home in the UK as the country weathers the storm that is COVID-19; this relatively novel way of working has impacted our employees in many ways – positive and negative.

A study by Nuffield Health revealed the 80% of employees feel that working from home has had a negative impact on their mental health. National lockdowns, social distancing and restrictions have adversely impacted our employees, and as such, our professional and personal lives have become increasingly blurred.

To really find out how working from home has impacted the world of work, we took to the (virtual) streets to ask employees that have been working remotely to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions about working from home.

Productivity and motivation remain high

If the last year has taught us one thing, it is that many businesses can continue to operate ‘as normal’ without needing staff to be present in the office. While working from home is practically impossible in some industries such as retail, manufacturing and hospitality; the vast majority of our survey respondents that have been working remotely said that they are as or more productive at home (80%) and as or more motivated at home.

While working at home brings its share of distractions, the flexibility it provides means many employees are seemingly just as, if not more, productive than in the office.

Mental health is suffering

When it comes to employee mental health at home, our findings reflect those of top mental health charities and services. 2 in 5 employees we surveyed shared that lockdown and working from home have negatively impacted their mental health.

Similarly, leading mental health charity, Mind found that the first period of lockdown was particularly challenging. More than half of adults (60%) stating their mental health deteriorated during the early period of lockdown restrictions from April to mid-May 2020.

The heightened levels of anxiety that the coronavirus pandemic has created around our health and wellbeing, job security and intense periods of isolation have led even those who have no previous experience of mental health issues to suffer from poor mental health.

Disconnected to business and culture
Worryingly, 40% of employees report feeling disconnected to their business and culture while working from home. It is clear that being away from the usual sights and sounds of the business can lead to connections with businesses faltering.

Coupled with the fact that a staggering 60% of employees also report that their employers haven’t done anything to keep colleagues connected while working remotely; it is hardly surprising that 2 in 5 feel disconnected.

Something as simple as a Zoom quiz, virtual coffee morning or online teambuilding exercise can go a long way in ensuring employees maintain their bond and pride for their employer.

Challenges of WFH

Working from home is not for everyone, and the challenges it brings are plentiful. In our survey, 40% of respondents cited the blurring of boundaries between work and home as the biggest challenge. This was followed closely by too many distractions at home (20%) and poor workspace and equipment (20%).

As we continue to live, work, exercise and socialise in our homes, it is easy for some employees to feel like the days are merging into one. Encourage your team to (if they can) distinguish between the spaces where they work and where they live. Be sure to offer any equipment they may need to make their home office – wherever it is in their home – as comfortable as possible.

The perks of WFH

Despite the inherent challenges that working from home can bring, employees find certain aspects of it beneficial to their personal lives, with 35% of respondents enjoying no commute. Research commissioned by the Trades Union Congress reported that employees’ average daily commuting time is just shy of 59 minutes. In the space of a year, this adds up to a staggering 221 hours spent commuting to and from the workplace.

Having been given this time back to spend with their families, to relax before and after work, practise hobbies or have the time to have a proper breakfast; this improved work-life balance will only stand to motivate your employees further without the stresses of commuting.

Similarly, 20% of respondents cite the flexibility that working from home brings as the most significant benefit of working from home. Tasks such as the school run, waiting in for a contractor or even running errands during the day become much easier to balance while working remotely.

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