Making Life Work After Lockdown
Covid–19 has resulted in all companies trespassing like never before into peoples’ home lives. Kitchen tables have been turned into home offices, we’ve quickly adapted to technology and, for the most part, trust between employer and employee has emerged.
The fear that staff would be watching Netflix all day has disappeared as, in fact, people can’t think of anything worse than another hour of screen time in their home.
What this trespass has done is refocus the balance of power in a conversation between company and employee, which will result in employees requesting (maybe even demanding) a different working environment to what they have been used to.
During lockdown we have conducted a primary research exercise, surveying 2000 home-workers to find out what new habits are being created during this time and what their new demands of a workplace are. What is going to Make Life Work for employer and employee when we return to our offices?
Design that’s worth the commute
- While 61% of people are not missing their commute, 60% of people are missing seeing their colleagues regularly, suggesting that many are likely to consider their journey into work a fair trade for the social interaction they are craving.
- Almost 50% of people are missing the separation between their place of work and their place to relax; another win for TFL as that journey between destinations provides valuable time to wind up and wind down before and after a day in the office.
People are craving social connection so companies need to make teams feel connected when they return to work, not mimic further isolation with cubicles and partitions. Offices should enable meaningful interaction in a way that is covid secure and comfortable for all.
Looking after wellbeing
- 28% people are enjoying have more time for hobbies, 35% people like that they can do other things while working (household chores, a trip to the shops etc), 20% are enjoying more time outdoors and 19% are appreciating more time with loved ones, suggesting that work life balance for some has distinctly tipped towards ‘life’.
- However, 40% of people are struggling with not leaving the house, not being socially stimulated, and not knowing where their workday ends and their home life begins, indicating that much of the workforce has found being in one environment detrimental to their mental wellbeing.
- Enforced home working may also be taking its toll on physical health as only 25% of people are enjoying more time for fitness while 43% are struggling to find time to get out of the ‘home office’ to exercise.
- 28% people are enjoying cooking more and eating better, while 32% are finding it a challenge to manage their food intake.
People whose mental, physical and financial wellbeing has thrived during lockdown, and those whose health might be at risk by returning to work, should certainly be given the option to continue working from home on a more permanent basis.
Those who are struggling at home should be amongst the first to return to the workplace along with the employees who need to be present to fulfil their job function effectively.
Employee wellbeing is key to maintaining a happy, healthy and loyal workforce.
Tackling home ergonomics
- Physical health is also influenced by our home office set ups with ailments more likely as we spend 8 hours a day ‘making do’ with dining chairs or sofas. 45% of people are missing their ergonomic chairs and desks, additional screens and workstation accessories.
- While working from home, 14% of our respondents have been operating with an enhanced setup including multiple screens and printers to enable optimum efficiency. 29% have a more basic but nevertheless organised office set up, and 18% of home-workers are battling for space, sharing kitchen tables with co-working housemates, partners or children.
The comfort of the office should be extended beyond its walls. Ergonomic furniture and a proper workstation set up has a positive effect on focus and productivity so companies re-writing their working from home policies should support the needs of their staff working remotely as much as those at HQ.
Flexibility and hybrid working
- 59% of respondents said that when they return to work, they desire more flexibility to tailor their work life around their home life and 38% specifically want to retain the trust of their employer to work from home.
- 41% of respondents said they do not miss being interrupted by colleagues at work and 26% said one of the things they don’t want to lose when returning to work is the efficiency of working alone.
- Office design could be influenced by the desire for more plants, terraces, fresh air and outdoor areas as 35% of those surveyed said they don’t want to lose such connections with nature when they return to the office
- Respondents also hope that their employers provide more agile space for working, socialising and relaxing, offer workplace fitness classes and welcome office dogs.
- Whilst home working, only 27% people have stuck to normal office hours while 27% say their hours vary each day, and many start early and finish early or start late and work into the evening. 14% said they were working many more hours than usual.
- The nation’s favourite thing about working from home could be that they can do so in their pyjamas! ‘No dress code’ was the most common answer amongst respondents.
Companies should redefine the office to suit what people need to do there, which may mean more space for collaboration and less for solo work which can be done at home.
Providing employees with the opportunity to work between home and office, or between busier and quieter areas of an office means that they can continue to work without interruption at times but can also be available for more collaborative efforts at others.
Those based at the office might benefit from the option of more flexible hours or business attire, not only to bring some home comforts into the workplace but also to stagger entrances and exits from the office and on public transport whilst social distancing measures remain at play.
A catalyst for change
These ideas are not new to workplace design which has seen a trend towards residential concepts in recent years and a trend towards more flexible working models in general. The pandemic crisis has simply served to accelerate a transition that had already begun.
The essence of the workplace of the future is a lighter, more flexible approach to space, embracing the spirit of how we have worked at home.
Hybrid Working makes life work for both employer and employees, giving them the ability to work safely and productively in a way that maximizes life satisfaction, from wherever is fit for them.
You can read more in our downloadable PDF on Hybrid Working