New research from enei and HR DataHub suggests that despite the Prime Minister’s call for workers to get back to the office to save the high street and boost productivity, those working from home want to continue doing so and actually believe homeworking has increased their productivity, morale and performance.
The research found that almost three quarters (73%) of homeworkers have found working from home easier than expected and 74% would like to continue working from home long term. With a further 15% hoping for a short term home-working arrangement, only one in ten workers are intending to return to the office in the near future.
Fears that home-workers would slack off have proven to be unfounded, with 52% of workers reporting an increase in workload since COVID-19 restrictions began, and 37% working longer hours. Whilst taking on this extra workload, only 3% of respondents were dissatisfied with the support they are receiving from their employers.
Working from home is resulting in better outputs, with 27% reporting that the work they produce from home is of higher quality (7% report lower quality) and 44% believe they are more efficient working from home (20% believe they are less efficient).
Debbie Rotchell, who leads enei’s work on agile working, said:
“Our research suggests that as many as two in five employees are anxious about returning to their normal place of work, despite the safety measures being put into place. Whilst many employers will be wondering if and when they ask people to return to the office, they should consider the opportunities of long-term home working with the potential cost savings, productivity boost and the inevitable benefits to the environment. When appropriate, this could be blended with face to face working in a more agile approach, giving employees more autonomy in the way they work.”
The research found that few employees reported a negative impact on performance due to homeworking, but women were less likely to say that homeworking has had a positive impact on their motivation, and those with caring responsibilities were half as likely to feel that their new working pattern was more efficient than those without. This is likely to be as a result of children still being at home. The survey will be repeated later in the year once children have returned to school to see how this changes.
Despite this imbalance, those with caring responsibilities are more likely to suggest that homeworking has resulted in increased loyalty to their employer (44%) than non-carers (33%).
“Employees have been telling us for years that they need more flexibility in the way they work, and part time working options that simply reduce the total number of hours are too inflexible to meet their needs. This enforced period of homeworking has shown how easy and effective working from home can be and should be given serious consideration as a permanent addition to an employer’s ways of working.”