This week is National Work Life Week. It is the charity Working Families annual campaign designed to get employers and employees talking about what can be done to get the best work:life balance for both.
This year has seen an unprecedented number of people working from home, juggling life and generally testing the boundaries of their work:life balance.
Most working parents will say they have enjoyed the extra time at home, that they have been able to help with homework, do the occasional school run and see more of their partner and children. But at the height of lockdown the juggle just became too much for many.
In the long term are businesses going to embrace the new normal of working from home or at least flexible working?
When the UK went into a national lockdown back
in March, many workers were thrown into a new way of working. They wouldn’t be commuting into offices to work alongside their colleagues, but rather staying at home to get their work done.
Businesses have had to embrace new technology to keep their workforces connected and employees have needed to protect their work-life balance. It did take some getting used to, but having more time at home has been one positive outcome from the pandemic.
Many workers have enjoyed the chance to work from home, with new research from Direct Line suggesting that 44% of UK workers plan to ask for permanent flexible working arrangements after coronavirus restrictions are fully lifted. That’s more than 13 million people. Employees have been able to save time and money, as well as enjoying more free time at home to spend with their friends and families when safe to do so.
It’s not just employees who benefit either. There’s plenty of reasons why working from home is good for business. Let’s take a look at some:
As we’ve seen, many workers are enjoying the chance t work from home and would like to continue to do so – whether that’s one day a week, a few days or full-time home working. Having that flexibility is a huge bonus. Not only will it help you attract and retain the best talent, but you may also find yourself with a happier and healthier workforce.
They will have more time to create a balance between home and work life, which they could spend with family or spend doing more exercise. It’s having the flexibility to choose and have more freedom over their schedule that seems to be the most important factor for
There have been numerous studies exploring whether employees are more productive at home. They have some mixed results. In China, with workers who chose to work from home, they were 13% more productive and the rates of people quitting halved.
In the UK during the national lockdown, an ONS survey showed people who did some work from home were equally likely to work more or fewer hours than usual. But, of course, working during a pandemic has had a unique set of challenges and potential stresses.
When asked themselves in yet another study, 75% of workers said they’d be more productive at home due to reduced distractions. After all, it doesn’t come down to the number of hours you work, but what you achieve in those hours.
If you plan on moving to permanent flexible working or home working in your business, make sure you provide your employees with all the tools they need to remain productive. You could potentially do your own surveys before and after implementing home working processes to track how employees feel about their arrangements.
Office space is one of the largest costs for businesses – particularly in major cities. But with more employees working from home, you could save a lot of money on space and supplies if you could cut down. Perhaps you might shut whole offices or cut down on the space in certain locations. You might choose to rent space with more flexible ‘hot desking’ arrangements.
You may choose to keep some office space. Some studies have found homeworkers struggled to get the correct set up at home during lockdown, with many people working from kitchens, living rooms or bedrooms with a lack of space, noise and not enough natural light being common problems. While businesses must support their workers to have a good set up at home, having an office space to go to for some days is likely to remain desirable too.
Whatever your position, whether that’s a director, a CEO or manager, you can also work from home and set the example for the rest of your employees. Hopefully, the time they’ve spent working from home during lockdown has proven there’s no need to micromanage and watch over your staff. The work still gets done whether they’re in the office in front of you or not. So you can relax and get on with your own work from the comfort of your home too.
Do you believe working from home is good for businesses? Share your experiences with us.
Parental Choice work with business to help support their employees’ wellbeing. Our wellbeing programmes are suited to businesses of all sizes. The programmes include advice and information, virtual presentations, podcasts and video content.
To find out how we can help your business get in touch with the team on 020 8979 6453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.