We’re all aware by now that COVID-19 has sparked a surge in flexible working across the UK. This began out of necessity, as working from home was advised wherever possible, but Britain’s workers have continued to stay at home in large numbers even after lockdown.
Although there is likely to be more of a return to normal working patterns once the COVID-19 crisis has fully passed, once the genie has escaped the bottle it’s hard to put it back in fully. As a new study from Direct Line shows, HR directors are expecting that 70% of UK workers will be working flexibly in one form or another after COVID-19. Here’s why the work from home revolution is on the way.
Work from home means greater freedom
The clue is in the name: flexible working allows workers to have more flexibility and freedom in how they balance their home and work lives. Whether they choose to work from home for only a few days a week, or even the whole week, workers have the power to choose the working pattern that suits them best.
The benefits of this are clear: working parents will be able to pick their children up from school, or work from home when they’re ill, for example. On the other end of the spectrum, the ability to work flexibly can be incredibly important for those workers who may have caring responsibilities for elderly parents.
When working from home can improve work-life balance to such a significant degree, many workers will be asking why they should be made to revert back to the traditional 9-5 in the office.
Mental health benefits
Work-related mental health problems are sadly a big problem across the UK, and working from home can help to alleviate this. As well as the improved work-life balance we’ve already covered, working from home benefits mental health in other ways too. One of the biggest positive changes is less time spent traveling to and from work. The daily commute can be a punishing ordeal for many workers – a life spent leaving home in the early morning, and returning late at night, can quickly become very depressing. Workers who commute long hours during the week have little time for anything else in their lives, and the experience itself can be stressful. Spending hours each day in cramped train carriages or in traffic jams is far from ideal for a lot of people.
Working from home (with no commute to worry about) can also allow more time for exercise during the working day: in the morning, evening, or even in the afternoon to break up the day. It goes without saying, of course, that the physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise are significant.
The tip of the iceberg
These are only a few of the most obvious benefits of working from home. The liberation of workers’ lives from a rigid, all-consuming work timetable can be hugely beneficial in a number of different ways. They can spend more time with their family, or on rewarding hobbies and activities, and all of this has the potential to increase their wellbeing.
The benefits for employees are clear, and it’s easy to see why demand is increasing from their point of view. But employers are starting to see the benefits, too, and this is another reason why the work from home revolution is coming. Happy workers are productive workers, and there is evidence to suggest that working from home could actually boost productivity – and save employers a fortune in office rental costs at the same time.
Author: Eliie Hayes