The UK Work from Home Divide – How to Navigate Such a Situation

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been the year of change and adaptation – most especially so for the UK workforce. After all, seven months down the line after the first lockdown, workers are still being told to ‘work from home if they can’, meetings continue to be held over Zoom and alas, those conversations by the boiling kettle seem to be a distant memory. But how do employees actually feel about working in the age of the ‘new normal’?

According to a survey conducted by an affordable conference call software provider, WHYPAY?, over half of the UK workforce admit that their mental health is better when working from home. This striking result does show that the nation is very much divided when it comes to opinions on remote working, but what can employers do to navigate the ongoing work from home initiative? Have a read of these top tips. 

 

Harness the power of online communication tools  

Elliot Green, Chief Marketing Officer at WHYPAY? said: “What we’re seeing is a shift in mindset as many employees realise they can work just as well, if not more effectively, from home. With the right communication technology, remote staff can connect and collaborate very successfully.” 

Considering that face-to-face interaction in the office is simply not an option for many right now, it’s so important for colleagues to still maintain relationships with one another. That being said, there are many online communication tools out there to help you and your team do just this. 

As an employer or manager working from home, it is imperative that you make use of tools such as Google Meets or Slack to effectively manage your team. After all, things may get lost in translation in a general email exchange, so it’s best to be actively reaching out to one another in the best and most accessible way possible. 

However, when it comes to virtual exchanges with your co-workers, don’t just keep things strictly professional. Rather, check in with them or instigate a general conversation that you would have in the office. These actions could help to eliminate any reservations that your colleagues may have about communicating virtually. 

 

Consider the needs of each individual 

As the results of WHYPAY?’s survey have suggested, opinions on working from home are certainly not unanimous. Therefore, as an employer, it’s important to consider that different individuals on your team may have their own preferential ways of communicating. For instance, the idea of a video call may seem appealing to one person but not to the other. 

Nadia Finer, Founder of Shy and Mighty, commented: “Video calls can be harder to navigate in many ways than face-to-face interactions, because we are so focused on seeing our own face. When you talk to someone normally, you look at them, not at yourself!”

She added: “It can also feel rather overwhelming when everyone is talking at the same time. Instead of solely relying on Zoom, get back into the habit of speaking to people you care about on the phone. Voice only calls are in many ways more personal and intimate, and we are less likely to get distracted or feel self-conscious about the way we look.” 

It’s a challenging time for everyone, so being considerate to the needs of those around you is now more vital than ever. It’s also important to note that adapting your communication style as a manager to suit the preferences of each individual is a great way of building that additional rapport. 

 

Reflect on what’s going on  

A further interesting find from WHYPAY’s survey is that over half of employees stated that they get far more work done when working from home. With this in mind, perhaps reflect on the quality of work that’s being done by your remote working team. In general, have you noticed that your employees are simply being more productive working from home compared to the office? 

Similarly, the study reveals that 1 in 5 claim to be an “all-round happier person” since working from home. Given the perks of working from home, such as benefitting from extra sleep and not having to be packed like sardines with others on a daily commute, this statistic is not that surprising. So, in relation to your team, have you noticed a positive shift in everyone’s general mood since the office doors have closed? If this is the case, then it may be time to consider remote working as a viable option going forward. 

 

Ask what remote working has taught you and your employees

Finally, it’s so important for employees to consider what this culture of remote working has shed light on. Referring to the findings gathered by WHYPAY?’s study, almost half of the UK workforce agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their views of their current job, and 40% actually believe their job could be done entirely from home. 

More strikingly, the survey highlights that half of workers would like their employer to offer at least some level of remote working going forward, and almost a quarter would choose to take a significant pay cut if it meant working remotely going forward.  

From an employer’s perspective, these results may be very eye-opening with regards to knowing how people on your team feel and being aware of what they actually want. It is therefore important to take on these perspectives on board in order to navigate the work from home initiative. Just take a look at how others have done it. 

Speaking about his company, Managing Director of Sleeping Giant Media Anthony Klokkou said:

“Remote working was on the cards pre-Covid, however, not to the extent we are now using it. We’re now implementing flexible working to address the changes in working expectations and to give our team the freedoms they deserve. We have seen that remote working can work well, for us at least, and have worked hard to keep communication high across the business, whilst supporting the cultural development that is happening.” 

Overall, these new changes do spark one question: will traditional office working become a thing of the past as we move forward? 

On this note, Dennis Relojo-Howell, founder of psychology website Psychreg, commented: 

“COVID-19 has changed the world. One of the biggest day-to-day changes is that thousands of businesses had to close their doors and learn how to work from home.

“But now we’ve experienced this way of life, we might not ever go back to the traditional office as we know it. Some data has uncovered that many people prefer working at home, indicating that the future may be remote. To better support individuals, we also have to take into account what WHYPAY statistics has revealed.”