Posted 22nd February 2021
For many of us, this coming March will mark a year since COVID-19 really started to impact both the way we work and live. As non-essential businesses closed their doors during the first national lockdown, office workers and managers alike were thrown into the unfamiliar territory of remote working.
Before the pandemic, some employers were unduly reluctant to implement a flexible work from home policy. With suspicions surrounding productivity, commitment and employee management, remote working was rarely taken seriously as a viable option for flexible working.
The advent of the novel coronavirus, however, left little alternative.
So, one year on, how has remote working fared? And after a year, how are employees managing to sustain working and living in the same space? We’ll be discussing some tried and tested methods for the best WFH experience.
Remote Working Is Just as Productive
After much discussion and speculation, the majority of studies ultimately demonstrate that home working is just as productive as office work. Indeed, a study carried out by Cardiff University and the University of Southampton found that 70% of respondents were just as productive, if not more so, whilst working from home.
In some instances, businesses reported an observable increase in productivity during the pandemic and home working. A survey carried out by Talk Talk revealed that both employees and employers believe that remote working has had a positive impact on productivity. 58% of worker said they felt more productive when working from home, with 30% of business leaders agreeing with this assessment. In addition to this, 35% of leaders also stated that their employees were working more collaboratively from home, as opposed to in the office.
Most Employees Prefer WFH
Whilst working from home no doubt has its challenges, studies suggest that most office employees will be reluctant to return back to 5 days a week in the office. A study carried out by YouGov found that only 7% of workers would want to return to the office on a full-time basis, whilst a fifth of respondents said they would choose to work from home every day. 32% would opt for a hybrid model, working from home most days.
When asked why they preferred to work from home, 72% of respondents said ‘comfort’ was a major motivation for remote working, with 50% stating they spent too much time on commuting in ‘normal’ times. Productivity levels were also on the minds of respondents, with 50% of workers quoting higher productivity as a reason for continuing to work from home in the future.
The Jury’s Out On Work-Life Balance
When it comes to the all-important work-life balance, the jury is still out. Indeed, studies into the matter are inconclusive, with some suggesting work-life balance is better when working from home and others suggesting an overall inability to separate work and home life.
For many people, working from home means escaping the rat race that previously dominated their lives, freeing up time to spend with family or on enriching habits. National lockdown aside, working from home definitely saves employees time. For example, the average daily commute pre-pandemic was 59 minutes or 5 hours a week; vital hours that can be spent on other things. In addition to this, it can also save money. A study by The Office for National Statistics revealed that the average UK employee was almost £500 a month better off, saving money on travel costs, food and clothing by working from home.
On the other hand, a poll suggested that 40% of UK employees have experience a worse work-life balance thanks to home working. Respondents highlighted that they find it difficult to switch off in the evenings, with a quarter of respondents admitting working longer hours when at home. For employees with children, balancing home-schooling and childcare duties with remote working has also contributed to a decline in work-life balance.
Work From Home Tips
When you’re working from home, potential interruptions are everywhere. Whether it’s social media, endless cups of tea or your pet that you simply can’t say no to, trying to remain focused on our workload can seem harder when we’re at home. Interruptions to your workflow can also come in the form of endless emails, team chat notifications or video calls. Whatever your poison, minimising distractions is key. Whether that’s setting dedicated break times, setting your presence to busy or setting boundaries with your furry companions, blocking out time for concentrated work is essential.
After a year of working from home and being largely stuck in doors, many remote workers are now feeling burned out and perpetually tired. While there’s no doubt a number of reasons behind this, a lot of people can often end up working longer hours during WFH. Setting dedicated breaktimes will help you stay focused when you need to but also ensures that you don’t end up burning yourself out. Studies suggest that the optimal break time is about 15-20 minutes for about every hour of productive work. While this may not fly with your employers, incorporating elements of this strategy into your working day can help you maximise productivity.
Working from home can be a lonely experience, especially if you live alone or with a key worker who’s out during the day. Most office workers are used to interacting with colleagues on a daily basis but suddenly find themselves siloed by their workflow when working from home. Keeping in touch with colleagues on both a professional and personal level can help you feel part of a team and supported at home. Team chat apps are great for more informal communication such as instant messaging, gifs, and stickers, which all help you to stay in touch with friends and colleagues whilst you’re working at home.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons of sudden remote working was the importance of having the right technology. For your business to continue operating remotely, you need the right equipment, strong connectivity and access to applications. Don’t be afraid to ask your company for the equipment you need or suggest better processes/technology if your workflow isn’t working for you in this new working environment. For example, digital signatures and document management solutions have surged during WFH. Armed only with a laptop and an internet connection, printers, scanners, and fax machines were left behind in the office.
If you’re looking for a digital signature and document management platform to support your workflow, get in touch with E-Sign today.
E-Sign is a leading provider of digital transaction management solutions, supplying professional services including Electronic Signatures, Web Forms, ID Checker, Verification Tools, Personalised Emails, API and Payment Processing to businesses of all sizes across the UK.
To find out more about our E-Sign solutions and how they could transform your business, get in touch with us today.