Earlier this month we invited Leesman CEO Tim Oldman to present the findings of his company’s recent survey asking workers fundamental questions on how their working life has been during the pandemic. Joined by workplace consultant & professional ergonomist Kirsty Angerer, our two guests spoke at length about the trends uncovered in the survey, and the challenges they perceive many have faced as they adapt to a working from home experience.
In this article, we will take a close look at the key findings, which Tim spoke about, sharing additional insight into the data collected by Leesman from over 50,000 respondents around the world.
Leesman have spent the last 10 years asking workers about their workplace experience. Through an ever evolving set of survey questions, they provide organisations with a complete audit on their workplace environments, showing precisely what components support the productive work activities of the employees they accommodate. They are the largest resource of consistent workplace effectiveness data.
In response to recent events, they have created a home working survey, offering organisations “absolute clarity when it comes to understanding how home working is working.”
The initial data featured 51,000 responses, of which 92% were employees working from home, based in 61 countries. Employees were asked how their home is affecting their ability to perform their roles as well as their overall experience. Health, happiness, productivity and workplace identity were key issues explored.
As Tim explained during our discussion, the initial results general showed that “home is working”
Over 80% asserted that their home environment enables them to work productively. 71% of respondents said that working from enabled them to maintain a healthy work-life balance, with nearly 70% agreeing that when working from home they felt connected to colleagues.
These statistics are startling when compared to the same questions Leesman has put to individuals working in offices over the last decade (750,000 respondents and counting…) with only 63% in agreement that their offices help them to work productively (-18%).
Tim: “The tabloid headlines that we are reading paint a picture that home is working… The world has been taught a lesson or two about the trust it can invest in employees working in remote locations, and generally speaking, if we look at the global headlines, home working is actually working better than office working.”
If we look a little deeper than the headlines, it is not so clear-cut. When asked about specific activities, and specific elements of the working environment, there are some startling indifferences.
On the positive side, for those working from home, some of the most important aspects of their work are much better supported at home than in the office. Individual focused work, desk-based was the most popular work activity, with 91% saying they felt adequately supported, compared to only 78% of office workers (a 13% gap) with planned meetings and telephone conversations coming second and third, both again supported better at the home, with telephone conversations showing a massive 28% gap in satisfaction.
However, activities such as learning from others, informal social interaction, hosting clients and spreading out materials scored higher in office scenarios, although their importance was not as high. Only four of the 21 activities scored higher in the office compared to the workplace.
On the other side, the office really came into its own when looking at the workspaces themselves. Workers found that important features like desks, chairs and computing equipment were far more satisfactory in the office than at home. An office chair, for instance, was deemed important by 90% of respondents, but only 54% found the one in their home satisfactory, with nearly half not pleased with their current seating situation. This can be seen across the board, with five of the nine items featured scoring better in the office than at home, including desks, printing & copying equipment, and wired networks.
Tim: “The challenge, of course, is that averages mask significant highs and lows… There are some activities that home is supporting way better than the average workplace, there are also some activities for employees that the home is very much struggling to support. It’s a really mixed picture, it depends on what the employee is doing in their role and the environment that they have available to them at home.”
These key findings provided the basis for our digital roundtable, with Kirsty Angerer backing up the data with her own findings from the front line working with organisations adapt to working from home. During the discussion, she highlighted that employees, whilst enjoying the new found autonomy of working from home, were struggling to come to terms with a workplace without basic functional equipment such as desks at the correct height and comfortable ergonomic seating.
And whilst a lucky few had been given funds to purchase their own home office equipment, a lack of basic knowledge could mean that the money was not spent well.
Kirsty: “Were going to see a further set of issues because people aren’t educated on ergonomics, they don’t know what equipment to choose, that’s the likes of our jobs to help with that... I hope that with that financial benefit comes some training and extra resources.”
With the home office apparently here to stay, if not permanently, at least for the foreseeable future, the findings of the Leesman survey are clear – home is working, but there is still work to be done.
Click the link below to watch in full our roundtable discussion and hear more conclusions drawn from the survey by guests Tim Oldman & Kirsty Angerer.
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