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Sasha Hoey

Sasha Hoey

Marketing Executive
What do teams really think about WFH? The results are in! | Part 1
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Working from home

In light of the mass ‘Working from Home experiment’ that many businesses have been driven into adopting over the past few months, we wanted to gain and share a better understanding of both the positives and negatives of working from home as well as what this means for the role of the office.

Throughout June we surveyed over 500 office-based employees and decision-makers at SMEs on their experiences of working from home as well as their views on the future of the office.

This article is Part 1 of 4 in our Future of Work series, purely focused on our respondent’s experiences of working from home.

Before starting the survey, we asked respondents to answer our questions with a longer-term view, assuming current immediate issues such as hygiene and transport concerns are not a factor.

So, let’s take a look at what people think about WFH:


THE RESULTS

At-a-glance summary (Click to expand):Working from home - Future of Work survey results


Working from home is more productive for focused, solo work

Overall, most were quite productive working from home, especially for solo work. Training, learning and onboarding and working with others were less productive.

How productive are you when working from home with the different types of work below?

What does this mean?

This shows that to a large extent, working from home is actually very productive for individuals, especially for focused work. This makes sense as there is generally fewer distractions at home than being in the office, with colleagues having to make more of an effort than walking over to your desk which would usually interrupt your work. Training, learning and onboarding of staff as well as working with others were slightly less productive, it seems that many are missing the face-to-face interactions that make these types of work meaningful.


The worst thing about the office, is not the office, but the commute

The majority (47%) said that what they most liked about working from home was not having to commute to the office. Next to that, 26% said that having fewer distractions and 19% having more time with family were the biggest benefits.

What have you liked most about working from home?

What does this mean?

The dislike of the commute to work is not surprising, a bad commute can often set you off for a stressful start to your working day, the ability to leisurely wander to your work area at home is definitely an attractive option for that reason. The hope here is that as working from home and flexible working becomes the norm, the commute will be limited to fewer days a week or at more relaxed times for most which would likely be more manageable.

26% liked the fewer distractions when working from home. In an open-plan office where you can easily see all of your colleagues, it is very tempting to head over to them for a conversation which in turn interrupts their workflow. With colleagues having to make more of an effort to talk to you remotely and with the ability to get back to them when you choose, it is no surprise that focused work is less distracting and people feel more productive at home.

Finally, 19% are enjoying more time with their family. This is all about the work-life balance and, where previously having to spend the whole working week away from your loved ones, the ability to spend a lunchtime with your family and having casual chats whilst still working is a huge benefit for many, especially for those with young children.


Most would prefer to work from home for the majority of the week

57% would prefer to work from home for most of the week, 40% want to work from the office for the majority of the week. 38% would like to work from home 1-2 days a week and 35% would prefer to work from home 2-3 days a week.

Where would you prefer to work from for the majority of your week?

In an average week, how often do you see yourself working from home?

What does this mean?

Flexible working was already a growing trend before the lockdown but going forward it is clear that this has been forcedly accelerated, and many are adapting to this as a new normal. With 73% wanting to keep working from home for between 1-3 days a week, it is clear that the office will need to adapt to serve a different purpose. For those days that you are in the office, it might be for collaboration and work that requires other people rather than for focused work.


A large portion of employees feel disconnected from their company when working from home

42% feel more disconnected than when in the office. 52% feel as connected as they did when in the office. Only 6% felt better connected than being in the office.

How connected to your company do you feel when working from home?

What does this mean?

Although most (52%) felt as connected working from home as if they were in the office, a whopping (42%) feeling more disconnected is a cause for concern. In the office, teams feel more involved in the buzz and energy of the office as well as being included in off-hand conversations. Having physical visibility makes many feel more ‘in the know’. 

When working remotely, you are completely reliant on scheduled conversations – using Zoom or Slack it is much harder to have off-hand conversations. No amount of project management software can replace the important small talking points and micro-decisions of a conversation. This hints towards the role of the office as a place to reconnect teams and bring them back together so that they still feel ‘in the know’ and fully involved in the events of their workplace.


Most feel that their company trusts them working remotely

63% felt that their company mostly or completely trusts them when working remotely.

Do you feel that your company trusts you when working remotely?

What does this mean?

This shows trust is strong between employees and employers – gone are the days of desk presenteeism and clock-watching. Time spent at your desk does not equate to output and many businesses do realise that.

Trusting your employees is extremely important in empowering your staff to do their best work and can hugely contribute to staff retention. With most feeling that their company does overwhelmingly trust them when working remotely, this is a good indication that leadership teams are doing well to champion this even when physically apart.


Most felt equipped in their home set-up to work remotely, but some are struggling

35% felt very well equipped to work from home, 52% were quite well equipped and 13% felt unequipped.

How equipped were you to work from home productively during lockdown? This can be in reference to any element of your WFH set-up or environment.

What does this mean?

Working from home will naturally allow those with a great working environment to do their best work due to their new-found ability to focus, whereas others will certainly struggle. Factors that can influence a good and bad home setup range hugely and elements such as living arrangements, physical space as well as an individual’s ability to afford good facilities will all influence this.

For those living with housemates and especially those with young children, there is certainly going to be much more distraction and interruption at home.

Another major factor is the internet connection of the home. With potentially multiple people in a household all using the same connection for the whole day – internet quality is being put under pressure and can suffer dramatically with frequent dropouts that cause frustration and unproductivity.

Finally, and potentially the most concerning is the actual physical work set-up. Many have been forced to create make-shift solutions to recreate their office set-up. For those who don’t have a desk, many are working a full day from their soft furniture e.g. beds and sofas. This type of furniture is not meant for working from over long periods – these can create not only serious physical health issues but in turn can also become a detriment to an individual’s mental wellbeing.


Responses were mixed on how well their company communicated with them during the lockdown

56% of respondents felt that their company mostly or completely communicated well with them during lockdown.

Do you feel your company communicated well with you during the lockdown?

What does this mean?

Internal communication is very important to us at Kitt – an example of this is that we all get together at the start and end of every week as a whole company. As lockdown began, we were immediately driven to move our work-related comms into a project management software so that we could keep progressing things effectively. Even doing so, some still didn’t feel completely connected to what was going on compared to if they were in the office.

Many companies have found it incredibly difficult to make sure that every member of their team feels connected. Working apart and having silos of information and channels that you are not privy to can all cause a feeling of disconnect and even underlying paranoia.


Mental wellbeing suffered during the lockdown

76% of respondents said that their mental wellbeing was negatively affected in some way while WFH during lockdown.

Do you feel that your mental wellbeing was affected negatively while working from home during the lockdown?

What does this mean?

The topic of mental health is no doubt a vital consideration for every employer. With the majority of people we surveyed experiencing some level of detriment to their mental health during lockdown, there is a serious cause for concern on the longer-term implications of working from home for employees health and mental wellbeing.

Leadership teams should be having open and frank conversations with their teams about mental wellbeing to ensure that every person is being taken into consideration. Working from home certainly causes difficulty for managers to communicate as sympathetically towards their staff as being in-person – making sure that managers are equipped to deal with the additional strain on mental wellbeing is vital.


Summary

As lockdown continues to ease slowly and as we all settle back into a new world which is unlike the one we left behind, it is clear that working from home will most likely still have a large role to play in the future of work.

Some are working more productively than ever but others are certainly struggling – neither of these situations should be ignored, particularly the latter.

What is clear is that the ‘Working from home experiment’ has shifted the thinking on which type of work is best done at home and also which individuals will still rely on the office.

For more information on our Future of Work survey, get in touch with Sasha in our Marketing Team at: [email protected]

 


Read part 2 – ‘THE FUTURE OF THE OFFICE’

In Part 2 of our Future of Work series, we release the results on what people think about the office itself and the role it will play in a post-lockdown future.

Click here to read part 2.

 

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