Over the past few months during the COVID-19 outbreak, many employees have been required to work from home. For some, this has worked well, and for others, it has not been as practical as working in the office.
The Leesman Review, a quarterly journal produced using ideologies from industry leaders and experts, has investigated the employee experience of working from home, and compared it to employee experience of working in the office. It became clear that certain activities proved more enjoyable and easier for employees when working from home. For example, holding private conversations where disruptions are limited, being able to have confidential telephone calls knowing colleagues are not listening in, and attending video conferences, rather than in person meetings, are just some of the things employees stated are a benefit of working from home.
However, some work activities are more accessible and better supported in an office environment. Hosting visitors clients and customers in person, interacting with colleagues in a social capacity, and being able to learn from your team mates, are just some of the things employees have struggled to achieve whilst working from home. Some employees have also found a lack of technical and specialist equipment or business materials a challenge, which has prevented them to fulfil their roles fully.
The Leesman Review noted that while working from home, access to mobile computing equipment is very important, as well as the need for suitable Wi-Fi network connectivity. Employees also need to be able to access work files or the company network remotely. The use of a telephone is also very important to be able to communicate with colleagues, clients and customers.
At the office, employees have better access to IT equipment, especially printers, photocopiers, and scanners. The Leesman Review also found that traditional office furniture, such as chairs and desks were favoured, compared to home based office furniture. From the Leesman Review and other data collated on the same topic, employees’ have had a relatively positive response to working from home. The largest benefits seem to surround the different types of conversations that can be had using different communication tools, while the main challenges are in social interaction and feeling connected. Homeworking experiences differ based on varying demographics and, the data also suggests the main predictor of home working experience depends on the type of environment each person is working in.
Now lockdown rules are easing, and workplaces are starting to re-open, the desire for employees to return to the office will be impacted by the experience provided in the workplace, as well as the experience people have had while working from home. The Leesman Review concludes that ways of working and expectations are likely to have changed after a long period of working from home. Something employers will need to address.