A recent survey of 1,000 people in the UK has uncovered a growing trend of individuals cleaning their homes while working, with 60 percent of respondents admitting to tidying up between work tasks.

The study, conducted by an independent research firm, also shed light on the day of the week when most cleaning enthusiasts get to work: Monday, with a staggering 81 percent of participants revealing that they embark on their cleaning routines at the start of the week.

The data also offers intriguing insights into the differences between individuals who primarily work in traditional office settings and those who work from home. Among the latter group, 48 percent confessed to sneaking in some cleaning chores during their lunch breaks.

Many attribute this new phenomenon to the increased flexibility that remote work arrangements offer. The ability to fit basic cleaning tasks into their daily schedules is seen as a perk by some employees, allowing them to maintain a tidy home environment alongside their professional duties.

Caution is urged

However, employment law experts urge caution. Elissa Thursfield, Consultant Solicitor in the employment law team at Richard Nelson LLP, emphasised the importance of reviewing employment contracts and discussing expectations with employers. She noted that while remote or hybrid work arrangements may grant flexibility in terms of location, they do not necessarily permit flexible working hours.

Deviating from specified working hours to engage in personal tasks, like cleaning, can potentially be viewed as serious misconduct and may lead to disciplinary actions.

Thursfield also stressed the need for clear boundaries and expectations for remote workers, urging employers to establish guidelines for remote work practices, particularly if they intend to enforce consequences for deviations from these rules.

Addressing concerns about forcing employees back into office environments due to productivity worries, Thursfield advised against hasty decisions. She recommended a thorough review process, ensuring that all facts are considered before making such decisions and suggesting that dismissals should be approached with caution.

Opinions are divided!

Nancy Emery, a cleaning expert at kitchen and bathroom retailer Tap Warehouse, weighed in on the debate surrounding cleaning during work hours. Emery acknowledged that cleaning while working is a contentious topic, with opinions divided on its impact. Some argue that breaking away from work can disrupt productivity, while others believe short breaks can provide a mental reset and boost overall efficiency.

Emery recommended finding the right balance and avoiding getting carried away with housework. She suggested that techniques like the Pomodoro method, which encourages a five-minute break every 25 minutes, can provide an opportunity to accomplish quick cleaning tasks without getting distracted. However, she advised using a timer to stay on track and prevent excessive cleaning.

As remote work continues to be a prevalent aspect of the modern workforce, discussions around productivity, boundaries, and the integration of personal tasks like cleaning into the workday are likely to persist. Finding the right balance between maintaining a clean home and staying focused on professional responsibilities remains a personal challenge for many remote workers in the UK and beyond.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.