The same number of workers reported a better work-life balance as a result of working from home.
A new report from Microsoft and the CIPD has revealed the impact of remote and hybrid working during the pandemic.
Whilst some areas of workers’ lives were significantly improved as a result of working from home, there were clear issues that employees struggled with.
The research collected shows that, for many employees, remote working has given them the opportunity to focus much more on their personal lives and to adapt to a work routine that suits them.
Flexible working was adopted by almost half of respondents (44 per cent) who reported working the same number of hours but in a different pattern, according to what suits their schedule best.
As a result, this has allowed employees to cultivate their personal lives. Three-quarters (75 per cent) stated that they spend more time with friends and family as a result of remote working whilst four in five (79 per cent) found that they are better able to balance running their households with their work.
Personal wellbeing has also become a priority for employees as seven in ten (70 per cent) stated that they now have more time to invest in this.
Unsurprisingly, this has meant remote working has boosted happiness levels for many – with over half (56 per cent) reporting an increase in their happiness levels as a result from working from home.
Despite having more time to spend on themselves, employees conversely also felt a significant pressure whilst remote working.
Almost a third (30 per cent) reported an increase in their hours whilst working from home, owing to the lack of distinct boundaries between work and life.
Furthermore, the always-on culture seems to have worsened with over half (53 per cent) feeling that they must be available at all hours and work longer hours.
As a result of this, when asked about what training they would like to see to support remote working skills, over a third (36 per cent) wanted more resources linked to mental health and building resilience.
However, it seems that employers could be doing more to support staff in this way as under a third of respondents (29 per cent) stated that their company had introduced additional benefits and resources to support employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.
In light of these positives and negatives, the CIPD made four key recommendations to people professionals:
- Support hybrid workers through good people management: “Design work processes that suit all locations, concentrating particularly on knowledge-sharing, co-ordination of work and team relationships to encourage performance and innovation.”
- Ensure fairness of opportunity: “Provide ongoing access to development and career conversations for all employees.”
- Put health and wellbeing front and centre: “Ensure that employees are not over-working and remind them about the importance of maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing and taking regular breaks, fresh air and exercise.”
- Offer a range of broader flexible working options: “Go beyond remote working and look at introducing wider flexible working options like job shares, compressed hours, flexible start, and finish times. Support flexibility from the start by recruiting flexibly and making the right to request Flexible Working a day 1 right.”
Ben Wilmott, Head of Public Policy at CIPD, said:
It is clear that more employers intend to adopt a hybrid mixture of home and workplace working in the future and this is certainly positive as it can provide greater employee flexibility and work-life balance, and support greater diversity and inclusion.
However, it is crucial that line managers are ensuring that workers are not over-working and that organisations are supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of all employees.
This will require senior leaders to model the behaviours they expect of others and for businesses to focus more on equipping managers with the people management skills they need to manage and support more home and remote workers.
*This research was obtained from Microsoft and the CIPD’s report ‘Work Smarter to Live Better’. This report was compiled by Microsoft Surface UK. 4282 employees were surveyed that work in an office, of which there were 2863 that work in an office and work from home. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27th October – 5th November 2020.
Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.