Employees Working From Home Has Tripled Since Before Lockdown

A recent study conducted by Flexi Careers, which examined the experiences and motivations of 1,500 UK professionals, found that 83% were continuing to work from home at least some of the time since lockdown began in March 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a huge change in the way we work, with many employees now working from home for the first time.

A recent study conducted by Flexi Careers, which examined the experiences and motivations of 1,500 UK professionals, found that 83% were continuing to work from home at least some of the time since lockdown began in March 2020.

This figure represents a significant rise; just 31% said they were working remotely at the start of the year. It also demonstrates that many people are keen to retain this new-found flexibility.

When asked what their preference would be once COVID restrictions were lifted, over half of respondents said they would like to continue with a combination of office and remote work. Reasons given included increased productivity and creativity as well as improved work/life balance.

Still, there is clearly an appetite among some workers to return to commuting five days per week: over one third said they felt more efficient when operating from an office environment, while more than a quarter cited better opportunities for collaboration as a reason for wanting to go back full-time. However, there’s still an appetite for flexible working and other forms of flexible working have fallen by the wayside compared to homeworking.

A study conducted by Workplace Options, a workplace flexibility consultancy and provider, shows that 83% of the 2,500 employees surveyed said they were continuing to work from home some or all of the time.

Over half (52%) expressed an interest in continuing with a combination of office and remote work once COVID restrictions were removed.

The ‘Future of Work’ study, conducted by Flexi Careers, analysed the working patterns of 1,500 UK professionals before and after lockdown. The study was carried out in March 2019, with a follow-up survey taking place in March 2020 and 2021.

The results show that 55% of respondents who had been working full-time up until December 2020 moved to flexible working arrangements during the pandemic lockdown period. This is more than triple the average level (14%) seen before the outbreak started to affect UK business activity overall.

Over half of respondents were keen to continue with a combination of office and remote work once COVID restrictions were removed, as they believed this would aid productivity and creativity.

For many, working from home can be more productive, creative and efficient. Working from home often allows for greater collaboration, flexibility and convenience for employees who are located in different locations. Companies that have made the decision to allow remote work have reported improved morale among staff members who have previously felt isolated or disinterested in their jobs because of long commutes or long days spent in an office environment with little interaction with colleagues.

It was clear that many respondents felt that current perceptions surrounding flexible working need to change; just over half said they would be less likely to accept a role if they knew their employer had an aversion to flexibility.

Flexible working can be good for employers and employees. Organisations should encourage flexibility, particularly in the current economic climate, when many organisations are looking for new ways to cut costs.

This research shows that the majority of people believe flexible working is beneficial for both employers and employees, with more than 80% believing it makes them more productive at work. However, only one fifth said their employer supports flexible working as much as they would like them to do so.

TUC research published in June 2021 found that people in higher-paid occupations were much more likely to have worked from home during the pandemic (60%) than those in working-class jobs (23%). The union body says that if that by delaying new rights to flexible working, the government is excluding people in working-class jobs from accessing the benefits of flexibility. There seems to be an ignorance to the different types of flexible working out there and how these can be implemented in these types of roles.

The TUC says that to prevent class and geographic inequality, the government must urgently act on its promise to improve flexible working rights across the board. In response to the recent flexible working consultation, ministers should set out plans and a legislative timetable to:

  • Unlock the flexibility in all jobs. There is a flexible option that will work for every type of job. There are a range of hours-based and location-based flexibilities to choose from. Employers should be required to think upfront about the flexible working options that are available in a role, publish these in all job adverts and give successful applicants a day one right to take it up. 
  • Make flexible working a genuine legal right from the first day in a job. People should be allowed to work flexibly from day one – unless the employer can properly justify why this is not possible. Workers should have the right to appeal any rejections. And there should be no limit on how many times you can ask for flexible working arrangements in a year.

Having a good work/life balance was named as the most important factor in choosing an employer by 60% of respondents.

Work-life balance is one of the most important factors in choosing an employer, according to 60% of respondents to our survey. This finding is hardly surprising: with more people working from home these days, it’s more important than ever to have a good balance between your work and personal life.

But what exactly does “work-life balance” mean? It can mean different things for different people—some prefer a flexible working arrangement (working late one day to leave early another), while others would rather not have their family time interrupted by work-related interruptions. And still, others prefer not having the option of working from home at all: they like being out of their house every day, but they also need regular face time with co-workers and clients who live elsewhere.

Having said that, there are certainly some commonalities when it comes to how people achieve a good work-life balance: most people want control over when and where they work; having colleagues around them helps them feel less isolated; and making sure there are enough hours in the day for other activities outside work (like exercise or cooking) can help keep stress levels low throughout the week.

Although there is no doubt that working remotely has become easier than ever before thanks to new technologies like cloud computing, many employers still face challenges when introducing flexible work practices into their organisations due to concerns about productivity levels and security issues associated with remote access via Wi-Fi networks

This research makes it clear that even after the pandemic is over, homeworking will remain a crucial feature of the workforce. It’s not just working from home that matters—it’s how companies choose to incorporate this option into their employees’ routines that will set them ahead or behind the times. Whatever preference an employee may have, it should be accommodated if possible. Of course, not all roles are suitable for remote working, but as much flexibility as possible must be provided if employers wish to attract and retain talent in today’s job market (and most do).