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In a recent piece of research we conducted, it was found that 44 per cent of employees are finding working from home much harder, physically, mentally and emotionally, than being in the office.
Nearly all the respondents surveyed said that the biggest challenge they face whilst working from home was isolation. They stated that they miss the regular social interaction with colleagues and find it much harder to conduct meetings, conferences and training sessions. However, this issue extends further than day-to-day bugbears of work; nearly a third of employees say that their mental health has declined as a direct result of the pandemic.
Thankfully, it has been widely reported that employers have recognised that they are dealing with a mental health crisis. This year, 88 per cent of employers are increasing investment in mental health programmes, with 94 per cent expecting to expand virtual wellness services in 2021.
Other issues were reported by respondents, with the most common hurdles faced when working found to be:
- Broadband and connectivity (30.5 per cent)
- Home schooling (31.4 per cent)
- IT infrastructure (24.7 per cent)
It’s not all bad news
Nevertheless, despite the negativity surrounding the struggles of working from home, a significantly large proportion (86 per cent) would be happy to work from home more frequently than before post-pandemic. Nearly 20 per cent of those would be happy never to return to the office again.
The understanding is that this high desire to continue working from home post-pandemic comes with the knowledge that, once we are out of lockdown, children will return to school, broadband will be less heavily used, therefore performing much better, and companies will have had enough time to iron out any issues with IT infrastructure. These aspects, alongside greater understanding and support of mental health and wellbeing will undoubtedly make remote working more viable and efficient.
What else has changed for the workforce over the past year?
As a consequence of the pandemic, nearly a third of workers say that their expectations from an employer proposition have changed significantly compared to pre-pandemic. Of this percentage of workers, the most valued benefit is flexible working (73 per cent), followed by:
- A good pension scheme (38 per cent)
- A bonus scheme (34 per cent)
- Healthcare (31 per cent).
Parking was also highly rated (20 per cent), as was a gym membership (14 per cent).
Compared with a similar report we undertook in 2019, both healthcare and parking perks increased in value significantly. This can be most certainly explained by the pandemic. Employees are more concerned about their health than they were a year ago and less people are keen on using public transport due to the high transmission risk.
So, what does 2021 look like for the workplace, its culture and its benefits?
In 2021, working from home will no longer be viewed as a ‘nice to have’. Despite its hurdles, the pandemic has proved, and continues to prove, that working most of the time from home does not necessarily have a negative effect. We anticipate the shift to be accelerated in the coming months, especially with the third lockdown recently implemented. However, employers still need to ensure that the technology is robust enough to support the ‘new normal’ and that major financial investment continues.
Additionally, due to the change in attitudes amongst staff as to what benefits and perks are of importance to themselves and their families, companies would be wise to ensure that they are listening to individuals closely to provide tailored packages. This will not only retain current staff but give businesses a competitive edge.
To read the full report, please visit: https://www.wademacdonald.com/how-the-pandemic-has-impacted-employee-expectations