In our previous survey we asked about people’s experiences of working from home under lockdown. This time, we asked people to tell us what has been positive about it and how they feel about the return to work.
Everyone in our sample was currently working at home and around 75% had no plans to return to work at this time. For half of them this had been a wholly positive experience, and for the other half, a mixed one. Everyone reported that the positive benefits included:
- an increase in their quality of life
- happiness at seeing a cleaner, greener more natural world
We asked what changes, if any, people would like to make on their return based on this experience. All of them reported that they wished to work from home more frequently. 50% mentioned a desire to reduce their commute time, prioritise leisure activities, and spend more time with their family. A quarter wished to adopt a more flexible working pattern on their return in terms of hours.
How do people feel about going back to work?
This was quite a mixed picture, with around 50% apprehensive and not sure what to expect, a quarter looking forward to it, and the remainder not looking forward to it. The principal concern (of 66% of people) was having to adjust to new working practices due to Covid-19. A third of people indicated general anxiety about contracting Covid-19 at work or on their commute and another third indicated a general reluctance to return, mentioning that they had enjoyed working from home.
In a forthcoming article we’ll look at ways people can approach their return to work, and how employers could ease their employees’ return to work in light of their likely concerns.
The new world of work looks set to be rather different from the pre-Covid one. As companies look again at their need for office space, gearing up to facilitate freer and more flexible working patterns, and new technology to support social connection and creativity, change is inevitable. The unwitting experiment brought on by Covid-19 has revealed that productivity and creativity can be achieved, and that well-being matters. These will be features many people will not be willing to give up. Social connection matters too and this promises to be a major feature of innovations in working life ahead of us.
In the shorter term, supporting people back to work should address the concerns commonly raised around control, safety and communication. We recently received this informative guide for employers (Creating a safe workplace during Covid-19) from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors. This is freely available so please do share it.