Working from home vs back in the office

My View Research White Paper

Boosting Businesses

This white paper will examine employees’ responses to the restrictions on social distancing lifting and what that means for how and where they work. It will also address how employers have engaged with their employees on what their future working environment looks like.

Comments on data file

As with any set of results, the cross section of people responding must be acknowledged. Of the 113 responses, an overwhelming number of these came from females at almost 70%. A wider survey that encompassed more respondents who identified as male would be needed to assess the impact of gender on the answers. In terms of age range, a broad response came from all ages starting at 18, with slightly less in the 65+ category.

If you are currently working from home, has your employer started discussing what your future working environment will look like?

Almost half of those surveyed said yes they had been asked about this. Over a quarter of the participants had not been asked. When we consider the timeframe of the end of restrictions, these employees that have not been asked are somewhat surprising. How we interpret those who have said this question is not applicable is open to debate. We could reasonably infer that they already worked from home or that they have worked at their employers premises throughout the pandemic.

Yes 46.85% 52
No 27.03% 30
N/A 26.13% 29

If yes, what is your employer planning to do?

It’s here that the data is compelling. When we consider the big hitters such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have already decreed that getting everyone back into the office is a priority, the results on this aspect of the survey are in opposition to that. Less than 3% of those surveyed were planning to get everyone back in the office. Almost 15% will carry on working from home.There are many employers who have seen the benefits in terms of overheads on an office, employee happiness and productivity and have decided that working from home is right for their business. The biggest indicator of what the future working environment looks like was shown with almost half the participants answering they would be carrying out a hybrid of working from home and in the office. It is unclear whether employers recognise there are points when the team needs to come together as a unit and face-to-face interaction is beneficial or whether the participants have been given the option. This warrants further research.

If you were able to choose what your working environment would look like, what would your preference be?

When we asked if people could choose, the split was similar but we saw greater numbers in every category. An overwhelming 62.5% of those surveyed wanted the hybrid model of working from home and in the office. Of the 25.89% who wanted to carry on working from home, demonstrated desire was almost 10% higher than those who had been told by their employer what would be happening. Conversely there were a greater number of participants who wanted to go back to the office full time. We can arguably conclude from this data that it is evident workers do not wish to go back to the way their working life looked pre-Covid.

How do you think client and team meetings should be handled in the future?

When it came to client and team meetings in this category, an overwhelming almost 85% felt that these should take place with a mix of video call meetings and face-to-face. Certainly in the case of geographical considerations and considering the relationship of those in the meeting it would suggest that staff would like to choose the best format depending on the participants in the meeting. When we consider that before the pandemic meetings only took place face-to-face or by conference call, it’s quite staggering to see that less than 4% felt that meetings should continue in the face-to-face format.

All meetings should be via video call 8.93% 10
A mix of video call meetings and face-2-face 84.82% 95
All meetings should be face-2-face 3.57 % 4
Other 2.68% 3

When working from home do you think there should be more flexibility with the hours that you work, or do you think there needs to be agreed start and finish times?

The data indicates that the majority of participants, at just over 70%, desire flexibility with their working hours. The traditional 9-to-5 model of working has been challenged and it seems found wanting. Workers want the autonomy to choose their hours and carry out their work in times that suit their homelife. It was felt by the participants that working from home had an overwhelming positive impact on their productivity with only 17.86% suggesting that the working from home model was a negative.

Do you think that working from home has had a positive or negative impact on your productivity?

It is important to note that this question is purely framed around productivity not personal preference. The majority of participants responded that working from home had a positive impact on their productivity with only 17.86% suggesting that a working from home model was a negative. The home environment and demands of a person’s role would need to be examined as clearly there is data to suggest it does not work for everyone.

If your employer said that you had to return to the office full time with structured hours, would you stay with the company or look for other opportunities with a more flexible working environment?

This category was split almost equally into those that would stay and those that would look for other opportunities. The data in all areas does conclusively indicate that there is no way back for many of us to the working patterns, environment and hours we were all governed by before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gender:

Gender

Age Range:

Conclusion

The results of this survey raise business process questions. It can be contended that there is a strong financial case to be made in continuing to allow your staff to work from home. When the costs of premises are weighed up against supporting staff with the equipment they need to work from home, it’s likely there are savings to be made. Businesses also need to question whether there is a justification for calling people back in if they can reasonably carry out their job from home. A business must measure how effective, professional and productive it is in regard to where the staff are located. If there is a lack of clarity on whether someone is as productive at home as they would be in the office, then perhaps it’s time to examine your internal processes and assess productivity. A business that cannot confidently understand expectations of work output from a member of staff has a different set of challenges that exist outside of the working environment.

Taking into account the data sample, from those who did respond, there is clear evidence that working from home has been positive and many want to continue to do it. It is possible that the call for staff to go back into the office is a knee jerk reaction. Fear of change might play a part and concern over scrutinising staff on their productivity. The results for the most part show the opposite is true. If businesses have not asked their staff these questions, there is arguably a case that this dialogue is part of a duty of care towards their people. Mental health is an important aspect of productivity. Happy people are more productive. This has been an incredibly challenging 18 months and now is the time to engage with your staff.

How are your team feeling?

Organising regular employee satisfaction surveys can identify how your team feel about working for your business and highlight actionable areas for improvement.

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