Working from home and mental health
This transition to home working has been hailed as a step forward for health and well-being in the workplace. But it has also ignited a debate on whether working from home or the office is better for employee well-being.
Let’s explore both the pros and cons of both remote and office working.
Remote working was on the rise before the pandemic, but it was a rarity. Following the introduction of a national lockdown and a work from home order by the government in March 2020, home working became the new normal for huge swathes of the population. Even 18 months into the pandemic, many employees have adopted a hybrid approach and still do not work at the office full-time. A recent poll found that around half of businesses in London are planning to let employees work from home up to five days a week.
While home working isn’t suitable for everyone, there are many arguments in its favour. Some of the positives include:
A better work-life balance
Throughout the pandemic, employees have realised how much of their time was being taken up by work, even if they weren’t in the office. The morning commute and journey home in the evenings made the working day much longer. By contrast, being home-based and not having to drive or take a long train journey to work every day allows extra time for:
- Sleeping and relaxing.
- De-stressing and not thinking about work.
- Spending time with family.
- Taking children to and from school.
- Picking up new hobbies.
- Being more productive.
The latest ONS survey has shown those who work from home believe their newfound work-life balance has been the best thing to come out of remote working.
There continue to be conversations around how productive employees truly are while working from home. Before the pandemic hit, many employers had concerns that allowing staff to work at home would reduce productive output. COVID-19 restrictions left businesses with no choice but to put trust in their employees, as roles were adapted to ensure they could be done efficiently from anywhere. Fortunately, this move has allowed business owners to understand the real impact home working can have on productivity, which is largely positive.
There were concerns that employees would be easily distracted while working at home, whether that’s by a family member or the television. In contrast, employees say they can be more productive at home without being distracted by office gossip or sidetracked with impromptu meetings.
Statistics from the time period when most people were working at home full-time support this claim. Westfield Health’s March 2021 survey showed that 25% of employees felt more productive working from home at this point. An ONS study also found that output per job had increased 9.2% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year.
Combining a better work-life balance with increased productivity, unsurprisingly, means workers are generally happier now remote working is an option. A February 2021 Microsoft survey found that 56% of homeworkers felt happier when working at home. Calls for working from home to become a permanent option also show how popular it is and how it has wider benefits. These include increased motivation, reduced stress and pressure, lower costs and more accessibility, the latter particularly being the case for workers with disabilities and chronic health …….