New Study Shows the Connection Between Homeworking and Productivity

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed society in ways no one could have ever imagined.

Outside of the great loss of life, people have been impacted by rapid changes to the working world and the uncertainty of what’s to come. A major factor in the labor market was the rise in the number of professionals who were required to work from home, and many are still doing so. 

What have we learned about homeworking and how has this impacted employee productivity and engagement? A new report published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) called “Embedding new ways of working: implications for the post-pandemic workplace” revealed much about the life of remote workers during the pandemic.

Based on a study of 1,046 establishments that participated, it provides a realistic view of how working from home has evolved -- and perhaps a glimpse into the future. 

How employees feel about homeworking

The CIPD report predicts, “The pandemic has probably changed for good the distribution of work between the regular workplace and home for many workers.”

Despite the challenges of balancing life and work in the middle of a global health crisis, many employees have found this time to be more productive -- and relief in times of career uncertainty.

The CIPD report indicates, “Before the lockdown, the UK had a relatively high level of occasional working at home compared with the EU average, at 18% of the workforce, but those employees who worked mostly at home were relatively rare, at just over 2%, according to Eurostat.”

In the US, working from home was still seen more as a luxury pre-pandemic. According to the 2019 National Compensation Survey (NCS) from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, “7% of civilian workers in the United States, or roughly 9.8 million of the nation’s approximately 140 million civilian workers, had access to a “flexible workplace” benefit, or telework.” 

Naturally, employees who have never worked remotely before felt the most awkward and confused during the initial first weeks. Now, there has been a long period of adjustment that has created a calm in some employees. For others, who are struggling to juggle Zoom meetings with childcare demands, it has been a real nightmare.

One survey says that more than half of Americans are working out of shared living spaces and bedrooms, which can be very distracting. CIPD data shows that 58 percent of the UK's labor market has been working from home as of June, but this number was dropping slightly as some were allowed to return to their workplaces. 

How productivity has been impacted by remote working

Working from home can be highly productive and it proved to be invaluable when businesses were forced to shutter their buildings to protect the health and well-being of citizens. The CIPD report indicated a connection between homeworking and productivity levels. 

The following results from the CIPD report indicate that employees do find the option of working from home beneficial:

 - 61 percent experienced better work-life balance by working at home

 - 43 percent enjoyed greater collaboration with peers and others (using technology)

 - 38 percent said they had a greater ability to focus with fewer distractions 

Employers also shared their views on the benefits of a remote workforce. They included “saving commuting time and cost, greater ability to deal with caring responsibilities, greater focus on tasks and more streamlined ways of communication.” 

Is this productivity sustainable?

Can working from home continue on this path of being productive? Aliah D. Wright, contributor for SHRM, says the answer depends on several factors. How well people adjust to no longer being stuck in a brick and mortar business, and, “that with proper management and guidance, telework can provide many benefits for employers as well as employees.” 

In most cases, working remotely has given employees a chance to be more productive overall, with several studies showing they are happier, less stressed, and willing to take on more hours to get the job done. Each organization needs to put workers first and keep monitoring engagement and productivity levels to determine their future success. 

Addressing a whole new set of employee concerns

This whole 'experiment', created by the pandemic, has brought up a few employee challenges and concerns. For example, employees need ways to feel connected to others otherwise their mental health suffers according to many studies. They also need to know their jobs are safe. Employees who homework also require additional support in the form of online training, access to technology and equipment, and daily check ins with managers in order to thrive. 

On-demand employee engagement software can help monitor how well employees are doing, while working from home, and bridge the communication gap between employees and management. This increases their level of safety too. 

What does the future bring?

Employees who responded to the CIPD survey said they would be 43 percent more likely to request to work from home on a regular basis, even after the pandemic subsides.

Some employees (11 percent) said they would be less likely to want to work from home, so workforce experts are recommending a hybrid approach to work arrangements -- taking into consideration what each business and employee needs. 

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Thymometrics provides tools that improve employee engagement and anonymous communication channels to help people feel connected when working remotely. Our feedback solutions provide revolutionary yet simple tools to empower employees and monitor wellbeing whilst providing managers with insights to improve business culture, productivity and profitability.

For more information, please call 01223 750251, email info@thymometrics.com or visit thymometrics.com.

Photo by Zakaria Zayane on Unsplash

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