Working From Home - The Benefits
WFH. Those three letters have become synonymous with job adverts and working life across the UK over the last year.
In recent research produced by the job board, Adzuna, working from home (WFH) was the most common benefit across the 750,000 job adverts they reviewed in February 2021. Other top benefits included wellbeing support and childcare.
These results, backed-up by the anecdotal feedback we get from our candidates, highlight people's changing mindset when searching for a job. Many people's lives have changed immeasurably due to the pandemic, and many are not willing to give up the positives that have emerged from the wreckage.
What does working from home look like
Working from home can take several different forms, and it is incumbent on employers to find a flexible model that will attract the talent who can develop their business.
Some of the larger tech firms, such as Spotify in London, have left the decision entirely up to the employee. They offer a work-from-anywhere policy that opens up the talent market and provides employees with the freedom to fit their lifestyle around their work.
Other companies provide an allowance for employees to set up their home office to ensure they can be as productive as possible. Some examples, such as Facebook, offer anything from £500 to £2000, with other employers offering to pay for wifi connections and phone bills.
Many of the other more popular benefits highlighted in the research focused on employee wellness.
Several businesses are now highlighting their commitment to the mental health of their employees. Some are offering counselling and meditation sessions as well as promoting access to mental health first aiders.
Some companies provide subsidised access to the right wellness tools such as wellness apps or even just a pair of trainers to help you get out and exercise.
Exercise at work
Another benefit creeping into the wellness package is access to online exercise. Whether that is yoga classes delivered on Zoom or a personal trainer drafted in to deliver session online. Leaders have recognised the importance of ensuring their teams get access to some form of exercise, especially during the winter months.
Is working from home here to stay?
Virtually everyone's situation changed pretty quickly last year as most of those who could, were asked to work from home. While a large proportion of job adverts now proudly present the letters WFH amongst their benefits, the question for many is still, is this of benefit to our business?
Working from home seems to benefit critical areas around productivity and lifestyle, but people miss their colleagues. 65% said they missed socialising at work.
Research produced by Microsoft in February 2021 indicated that 56% of employees reported increased levels of happiness working from home.
However, 30% felt working from home increased the hours they were working, and 53% thought they needed to be available at all times.
So while the figures indicate an improvement in happiness and productivity, there are additional mental and emotional costs that need to be managed t ensure the best possible situation.
WFH going forward
According to Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at CIPD, employees have been dealing with the additional pressures of home-schooling and an enforced lockdown,
"The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the biggest homeworking experiment we have ever seen in the UK. However, this is not home working in normal times."
While the pandemic has forced many people into a homeworking situation, it may not offer a true reflection of the approach.
It seems clear that a hybrid model will become the preferred option for many businesses. As Spotify have done, providing employees with the opportunity to choose where they work most effectively will become a compelling recruitment message. The challenge for employers is providing the infrastructure to make this happen.
Howard Lewis, Surface Business Group Lead at Microsoft UK, makes this point,
"Employees have been empowered to think about where and how they are most productive, while employers have been tasked with ensuring the devices they provide to their organisations are fit for today's purpose."
Optional Working from home
So, it is clear that the changes to peoples working lives have created some positives. Productivity and happiness at work have increased. However, pressures have shifted, and the mental pressures people are feeling need to be addressed.
WFH is something employees will be looking out for in your employee benefits package, but don't clear out their desk just yet.