Remote working has become the norm for many businesses. HR Team surveyed a number of employers and employees to see how this affects their mental health and the impacts of working from home.
Since the large-scale move to remote working in March 2020 – HR Team looked at some of the key factors for employers to consider in terms of managing their employees productivity, workplace stress and wellbeing while they are working from home.
How Do Employees And Employers Feel About Working From Home?
The research, commissioned by HR Team, found that all employees surveyed in Ireland want to continue with some form of remote employment once the coronavirus pandemic ends. In relation to worker productivity, 28.6% of team managers surveyed believe that remote working positively improved the productivity of their team, while 42.9% believe that remote working made no difference to the team’s productivity.
Respondents were divided on the subject of productivity, with employee responses suggesting a higher level of productivity while working from home. The majority (78.9%) of workers said they feel a lot more productive – with 60% rating working from home as being very satisfied. Only 28.6% of employers felt that their workers productivity had increased. More time was consumed (71.4%) in meetings for employers, while only 21.1% of employees felt that their time in meetings had increased since working from home. Some respondents stated that they felt stressed as a result of working from home. The factors reported as reasons for increased stress from employers included:
- Not being able to reach other members of the team immediately.
- Increased workload and the ability to switch off.
- Structuring meetings.
- Productivity and responding to email and calls.
- Lack of social interaction.
In contrast, employees stated the following disadvantages as:
- Ergonomic issues.
- Lacking the social aspect for mental health.
- Blurred lines between working extra hours and not switching off.
- Less collaboration with the work team.
- Distractions from home.
When asked about the best aspects of working from home, the majority of the survey’s participants said that not having a daily commute, less time wasted talking to colleagues about work related issues and less distractions were the key benefits. Only 10.5% of respondents felt that their mental health had been negatively impacted by having to work from home. With 73.3% saying their mental health was not impacted whatsoever.
The survey revealed that the biggest challenges facing people working remotely is lacking social interaction, exercise, creating a suitable workspace, maintaining structure and a separation of space when both working and living at home. Meanwhile, the merging of home and work environments resulted in almost one-quarter of respondents struggling to switch off at the end of the day.
From the survey findings, enabling some sort of home-working arrangement would appear sensible, both from an employee satisfaction for improved morale and productivity perspective. Time and money savings for employees make economic sense and employers will also reckon in the need for less office space and infrastructure for remote workers too. Besides from the life seismic shift spurred by the sudden work from home recommendations in March 2020 to reduce the spread of Covid-19, this will now be legally enforced under Irish law.
The ‘Working from Home Bill’ entitles employees to legally request remote working under new legislation the government plans to introduce this year. The government will also promote blended working – providing employees with more flexibility to choose when and where they work.
The ‘Right To Disconnect’ bill – a legally admissible code of practice on the right to disconnect from work – covering phone calls, emails and switch-off time has also been introduced. This means employees will have the right to:
1. Not routinely perform work outside their normal working hours.
2. Not to be penalised for refusing to tend to work matters outside of their normal working hours.
3. Employers have a duty to respect an employee’s right not to be routinely contacted outside of working hours. Employees in the State will also have the option to permanently work from home.
Employers’ responses to this were interesting; certain respondents were not aware of the legislation changes while others are in favour of the legal changes as employees are not expected to respond outside of working hours. Certain respondents agreed that this will improve workplace structure and is only the beginning of a natural progression to a remote working model of employment.
If you require bespoke advice for any situation or employment law advice in general, please do not hessite to contact HR team and one of the team will be happy to assist you: UK: +44 2871 271882 Ireland: +353 1 695 0749.