UK – Most flexible workers say working from home improved their work life balance
More than three-quarters, or 78% of workers in the UK who worked from home in some capacity said that being able to work from home gave them an improved work life balance in February 2022, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Approximately 52% reported it was quicker to complete work and that they had fewer distractions (53%). Almost half, or 47%, also reported improved well-being when working from home.
The majority, or 84%, workers in the UK who had to work from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic said they planned to carry out a mix of working at home and in their place of work in the future, according to the ONS.
The data showed that in February 2022, the most common hybrid working pattern that workers planned to use was working mostly from home, and sometimes from their usual place of work. Nearly half, or 42% reported this, which is an increase from 30% in April 2021. Meanwhile, the proportion who planned to split their time equally between work and home, or work mostly from their place of work and occasionally from home, fell during the same period.
The proportion who planned to return to their place of work permanently fell from 11% in April 2021 to 8% in February 2022.
Meanwhile, more recent data showed that in March 2022, those who reported working from home in some capacity were asked why they had done so. The most common reason given was working from home being part of workers’ normal routine (62%), suggesting they have adopted homeworking long-term.
In November 2020, businesses were asked if they intended to use increased homeworking moving forward and in April 2022 they were asked if they were currently using or intending to use homeworking.
The most common reason for using or planning to use homeworking as part of a permanent business model (among businesses who reported this) was improved staff well-being (60%), followed by reduced overheads (43%) and increased productivity (41%).
Nearly a quarter (23%) of businesses reported using, or intending to use, increased homeworking as a permanent business model.
The research also found that hybrid and homeworking increased by income bracket. More than a third, or 38%, of workers earning £40,000 or more hybrid worked between 27 April and 8 May 2022, meaning they both worked from home and travelled to work in the latest week. Workers in this income group were the only ones for whom hybrid working was the most common working pattern. They were also more likely than other income groups to work from home exclusively.
Ann Frances Cooney, employment partner at legal business, for law firm DWF, said, “The last two years has seen an unprecedented increase in flexible working arrangements, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for change. The statistics show that workers are seeing the benefits of a hybrid working arrangement.”
“However, with the drive to get people back into the workplace and employers concerned about employee engagement, a balance needs to be struck,” Cooney said. “For example, there have been concerns over more junior colleagues missing out on key learning by not attending the place of work and a general lack of teams pulling together. However, having a blanket policy of not allowing employees to work flexibly can be incredibly detrimental to organisations, from the risk of discrimination claims to a reduced talent pool. The key is for employers to put a structure in place that works as best it can for all – the best of both worlds."
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