With lockdown measures being slowly phased out and more people returning to their workplaces, we decided to survey 3,000 professionals on their experience of working from home, and what revelations there have been work-wise in the past couple of months.
Amazingly, two thirds (62%) of people want to continue working from home indefinitely once the pandemic is over, with over 80% of respondents claiming that their productivity has increased outside of the office.
We also wanted to find out if there have been any standout benefits and drawbacks of remote working; some make complete sense, such as spending less time on commuting, while others are a little more quirky!
The 10 most popular benefits of working from home our research identified are:
1. No commute
The average Brit spends 4.5 hours a week commuting by car or 10 hours by rail, resulting in an average cost of £800 per year*. By cutting this out, not only have we been saving money and time, but a lot of us will have also been feeling a lot less tired during the work day.
2. More flexibility with childcare
With schools and childcare facilities closed during lockdown, it would have been impossible for non-key workers with families to have gone into the office. Working from home has allowed parents to be a lot more flexible with their time, juggling childcare with work.
3. Easier to look after your pets
Despite worries that dogs may suffer with separation anxiety once life gets back to normal, lockdown has made many of us realise that it is a lot easier to look after pets when you are at home to let them out regularly and go for a lunchtime walk.
4. More productive outside of the office
A staggering 82% of people who responded to our survey said they had found themselves to be more productive than when they were based in the office. This could be tied in to the absence of the commute, or it could simply be that people are less distracted while at home.
5. Use of your own bathroom
What can we say - there's no throne like your own!
6. More interesting meals at lunchtime
There's no need to visit the shop for a meal deal sandwich when working from home and no shared kitchen to battle your way through.
7. Easier to work when not feeling 100%
Full of cold or suffering from a migraine? Normally that would mean a sick day from work, but when you're working from home and isolated from colleagues, it's easier to continue going and do what you can.
8. Casual workwear every day
Casual Friday every day? Yes please! Especially in the middle of summer, having to wear formal wear every day can turn into a bit of a struggle. No need to worry about that when working from home!
9. Customise your working environment
Prefer to work with the windows open, or maybe with the heating on full? Or maybe you prefer your own music to the office radio? The choice is yours in your own home.
10. More efficient meetings
People have noticed meetings are more efficient with less idle chit-chat and a more direct focus on the task at hand.
While 62% of people want to continue working from home, just under a quarter of respondents admit they are missing the office and can't wait to return.
The 10 most popular drawbacks to working from home our research identified are:
1. Loss of daily social interaction
Over 35% of people chose this as the thing they missed most from the office. Getting to see colleagues every day turns out to be a key part of going to work for most of us and that basic social interaction can do wonders for wellbeing.
2. Harder to switch off after work
One of the problems that some people have been finding at home is the blurring of lines between clocking in and clocking out. It's become easier than ever to get caught up and find yourself working an hour or two after work to get something finished.
3. Poor desk set-up at home
While in recent years businesses have put a lot of emphasis on creating an ergonomic space to work with good lighting, comfortable chairs and features like standing desks in some places, the stereotypical home office will either not be up to the same standard or not have existed at all for many employees.
4. Harder to collaborate with colleagues
From in-depth ideas meetings to simple back-and-forths in the office, learning to collaborate remotely has been one of the toughest challenges in recent months.
5. Snacking on unhealthy food while at home
You may have had a strict diet plan for what food to bring to lunch at work, however this will have gone out of the window when forced to work from home - just metres from the fridge and snack drawer or cupboard.
6. Struggling to stay motivated
The office environment is designed to be worked in, which can help with concentration, and having other people around you working can also motivate you to keep on task. There are a lot more distractions around the house that can easily lead to procrastination.
7. Poor communication
There is the danger that remote working could lead to poor communication within the team if not properly managed, and this can in turn make even simple tasks much harder to accomplish.
8. Inconsistent Wi-fi
Modern broadband has been a lifesaver for businesses all around the world during the pandemic, however some of us still suffer with slow speeds or internet connections that are constantly cutting out and making working difficult.
9. Security concerns with accessing work documents
The office may have had an advanced security system protecting all users and devices, however some people are worried that their home antivirus may not be enough to protect them while accessing sensitive documents remotely.
10. Having time to yourself while commuting
Although commutes can be stressful when driving through traffic, or costly when travelling by rail, for a lot of people this is the only time they are by themselves and the perfect opportunity to listen to a podcast, read a book, or just simply switch off and gaze out the window (not while driving, of course).
We carried this survey out after Twitter announced in a blog post that its staff will be allowed to continue working from home forever if they want to**. As many as four in 10 UK businesses will also be reviewing their physical sites in the coming months, with a third having already decided to downsize according to a survey by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo)***.
Cas Paton, founder and CEO of OnBuy, said,
"While I think that a lot of businesses may have been initially uncertain about the feasibility of working remotely, it's been great to see different companies adapt and find new ways of working outside of the office. Here at OnBuy, we've been able to continue working remotely through the pandemic, with no disruption to operations or productivity.
"We weren't expecting the survey results to be so high either! Once things have gone back to normal, it'll be interesting to see how many businesses decide to introduce some element of remote working, as there definitely appears to be a newfound appetite for it."