The shift from working in an office to home working is something that is a mixed bag. For parents, it can be a nightmare working and balancing childcare, for some (my mum included) it’s a saving grace to work from home.
Often times when we think of working from home, we think of the money we save from commuting, the time we can snooze a little bit extra, of having the freedom to work in our pyjama's. Something that we tend to bypass are the difficulties of home working, and how this can negatively affect our quality of life.
According to a study conducted by Joblist one year after the pandemic hit, working from home has created more distractions, increased working hours and less work perks.
41.8% of people reported a decrease in life satisfaction since working remotely [I]. This was the highest stat, with 35.3% of people saying their life satisfaction increased, and 22.9% saying it stayed the same. Working from home has blurred the lines between our personal and professional space, making it difficult to keep them apart.
We so often hear the regurgitated words ‘it’s important to keep your personal space separate from work.’
However, with the changes to home working, this is an almost impossible task for the majority.
In the Journal of Vocational Behaviour, J Olson Buchanan and W Boswell theorise that when employers have clear boundaries between work and home life, they’re less likely to experience conflict [ii]. Having boundaries allows them to switch off when engaging in work, and vice versa with their personal lives. This can help with work stress, anxiety and mental health.
This is not a luxury many people can afford. Within the study, 53.1% of people said they were finding it harder to separate work/non work life.
In another study by Perkbox, 79% of British people said they experience more work-related stress, a number which is 20% higher than only two years prior [iii]. This solidifies that people are finding working from home difficult as it blurs boundaries between our professional and personal lives, and as a result increases our stress.
This didn’t just mean not being able to leave our personal stresses at the door (or in home workers cases – at the foot of the bed), but it also means bringing our work stress home. Joblist found 30.6% of participants checked their phone more frequently outside of working hours since working from home.
Within the study, it also highlighted that there are more distractions whilst working from home.
Whilst working from home can give us much needed flexibility, with this comes unwelcome distractions that stop us from getting the task at hand done. Work that may have taken us a day or two may be now take us twice the time, and the quality of our work ultimately suffers.
16.6% of people surveyed said they were distracted by watching TV, something that came out as one of the biggest distractions when working from home. Gaming has also become something that 1 in 10 millennials engaged in during the work day.
All these distractions during the day means people are working later in order to hit their targets. A whopping 59% of people said they work past office hours because they had too much work to do. Some also reported feeling pressured to work longer because other people were doing so.
With office life being a far-off reality in post covid life, job perks have taken a nose dive. It’s hard to feel like you're part of a wider collective when working alone, and small perks like staff days out, monthly doughnut runs and changes of scenery are no longer a reality. It seems that despite the shift to home working, job perks haven’t changed accordingly, which has left many people feel like they’re missing out. In the Joblift survey, 58% of people agreed employers should pay for internet and 44.3% of people wanting more flexible working hours.
Working from home isn’t all doom and gloom though. With home working, many people in the survey reported having more time, with 49.4% of people saying they spend more time with family, and 41.1% people waking up later (and let’s face it – who doesn’t love a lie in).
Both people and companies are still getting used to the shift in home working – whilst the formula isn’t perfect by any means, one can hope that we can get it right with time, as this approach to working life seems to be here to stay.
Joblist conclude their study with the following:
Clearly, people have reacted differently in their transition to a remote-work lifestyle. Many have decided to switch up their routines accordingly and have rediscovered enjoyable pastimes to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Generally, though, people have become more productive, although they should be wary of burning out. Many felt some more at-home work perks would be nice too [v].