As the majority of companies head into the fifth month of working from home, the question of when workers will return to the corporate workplace hangs in the air. Globally, employers are now asking whether it isn’t so much a question of when, but if workers will ever return to the office.
Since only 1% of workers want to return to the old world, the ongoing pandemic has dramatically altered the landscape of the typical working day.
Most big firms such as Google, Natwest and RBS have announced that their employees will not be expected to return to their offices until 2021, which is later than the original assumption that workers would start to return in September. Organisations around the globe are evaluating whether they still need their workspaces post Covid-19, because if workers prefer remote working and have proven to perform better, then spending money on rent seems a complete waste at a time when financial losses are commonplace.
The productivity seen in employees working from home has generally been a success. For the majority of organisations, employees adapted to working from home immediately and enjoyed the newfound freedom and trust that came with it, with 80% of workers reporting reduced stress levels.
The typical ‘lockdown workday’ is on average 48.5 minutes longer than a day in the office, indicating that because employees are more content in their working environment, they’re more motivated and aren’t as eager to abandon their work at the first chance. Studies show that there are also 13% more meetings a day since lockdown, however the meetings don’t last as long as they did in the office.
Having said that, there is the danger that the novelty of working from home could start to wear off. When lockdown was first imposed, workers were intrigued by the new working day, especially since the whole world was in it together. However as we move into August, the reality that this is going to continue for a long time is beginning to sink in.
Although workers seem more dedicated to their work, many are skipping lunch breaks and a 52% increase of work messages has been recorded between 6pm and midnight. If workers continue to do this they will inevitably grow tired and start to resent their work, with data suggesting that long-term remote work is leading to a global drop in productivity. In order to ensure that engagement and productivity in the workplace doesn’t drastically decrease, it is up to the organisation’s management to ensure that the wellbeing of their employees is monitored and supported.
What can employers do to support their remote staff?
It takes great leadership skills to ensure that employees have a good work-life balance. Whilst it is easy to focus only on the work side of things, an employer that is empathetic to all workers who now use their homes as an office will produce more loyal and productive employees.
Employers who encourage routine and specific working hours are more likely to cultivate a better engaged workforce as remote working continues, with 80% of employees praising leadership that has acted proactively to protect their health and safety during Covid 19. As the weeks working from home stretch out into months, it is important for employers to thank and reward staff every couple of months to boost morale.
As businesses start to seriously think about the future of remote working, and the threat of a decrease in productivity lingers, now is the best time to introduce a rewards platform. Our employee benefit scheme, Reward Me Now, is completely free of charge and is a guaranteed, successful pick-me-up that your staff might need at the moment.