19th May 2022

Working from Home – What Lessons Have we Learned?

5 years ago, the thought of working from home, or even remotely was an alien concept. Now, what started for many as something of a novelty has grown to be a part of our regular working lives.

Although it is no longer a necessity, a large percentage of the population prefer to have the option to work from home when they wish. Which presents companies with a new challenge: What can we do to help remote employees thrive?

Luckily, after a few years of WFH experience, there are a number of lessons we can take to improve the lives of those who work from home.

Lesson 1: Communication is Key

There are plenty of ways that you can help remote workers bring the office feel home to them. Ergonomic chairs, branded stationary, dual-screen desk set-ups… But one thing that is almost impossible to recreate is the feeling of community that comes with being in a supportive workplace.

Informal office conversation, ‘water-cooler’ chats and quick drop-in meetings are an everyday part of being in the office. And it’s only when we started working from home that we realised how much we relied on this informal communication.

If you have even one employee working remotely, it’s extremely important to keep online channels open so they can stay involved in all communications. Whether that’s on major company updates, quick idea generation chats, or simply sharing the latest puppy pics. That way nobody feels left out, and everyone is happy.

Lesson 2: There’s no one right answer

Previously, working from home was often shunned as employers worried that employees would be far less productive than they are in the office. We now know that’s far from true for most!

What sparks productivity is largely subjective, and something that works for one person might not work for another. Some people may work better in the office, and some work better at home.

As long as your people are getting the work done, where they are when they do it doesn’t matter.

Lesson 3: Disconnecting is crucial

When 5 pm rolls around in the office, people will start to pack up and head out the doors. One of a number of visual cues that the working day is over!

However, when it comes to working from home it’s easy to miss these cues and end up over-working. According to a 2020 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, home-workers in the US worked an average of 48.5 minutes extra every day.

As a business owner, you might be thinking “if people want to work after hours, that works for me!”. However, while you may squeeze extra minutes out of workers in the short run, you could increase employee unhappiness (and potentially turnover) in the long run.

Quick tip: Show your people that ‘switching off’ is an essential part of their daily routine. Set up an automated daily reminder, or a quick check-in in their 1:1s, to tell them to log off and relax.

Lesson 4: Wellbeing matters

Wellbeing, particularly good mental health, is something that should be a priority for all businesses. Especially those with a portion of remote workers.

A 2021 survey carried out by the Royal Society for Public Health found that, while 45% of employees felt that WFH positively impacted their mental health, 29% believed that it was detrimental to their wellbeing.

At the beginning of the pandemic, mental health awareness was everywhere. Weekly wellbeing tips were being shared by companies, both internally and externally, and companies made it a point to check in with their people regularly. However, as the number of people working from home started to dwindle, it became, at least in some cases, a matter of “out of sight, out of mind”.

With this in mind, one of the key lessons learned over the last few years is that employees must uphold their duty of care for all employees, not just those in front of them. This can be done through regular communication, reflection meetings and perks that extend out of the office.

Lesson 5: Give people a ‘safe’ office to return to

Over the past few years, surveys show that most employees want to come back so they can be around other people and collaborate in ways that just aren’t possible remotely.

In fact, in a study by McKinsey & Company, 40% of respondents said that permanent remote working wouldn’t work for over three quarters of their team.

With that in mind, the focus shifts to providing a ‘safe’ workplace that your employees will feel comfortable returning to. This means including things such as:

  • Modular, flexible furniture
  • Safe, shared spaces
  • Adequate physical separation

You can find out more about creating a safe office space in our previous blog

Nurture your people, wherever they work

So, if you want to create an office space that nurtures your in-house team and supports the needs of your remote workers, get in touch today to speak to a member of our team.

Author:

Chloe Sproston

Creative and Commercial Director