This report from the Workshift Commission seeks to better understand employees’ experiences of working from home during the pandemic – the benefits, challenges and future opportunities.
We have found that many home workers have had a generally positive experience. Working from home has been linked to better eating habits and improved stress levels during the pandemic, indicating flexible working policies could help tackle obesity and improve public health. Home workers have also been more likely than non-homeworkers to experience improved mental health and volunteer more.
However, low income households have experienced the opposite, irrespective of whether they’ve worked from home. Low incomes have been linked to the deterioration of eating habits and stress levels, building on the arguments that more needs to be done to improve the living standards of low earners in the UK if we are to ‘build back better’.
The report finds that increased homeworking could come with increased surveillance, health and safety risks and costs for employees if remote working continues without employee protection. Those with the resources and access to adequate desk space, technology, privacy and uninterrupted time have been more likely to be productive than those without.
Many are expecting to continue some form of hybrid working as Covid-19 restrictions come to an end. However, without strong leadership from the government, over the coming months we could see a reverse in improvements in diets and stress levels while other employees could be at risk of unfair or unsafe remote working conditions. We therefore recommend the government builds on the Flexible Working Taskforce to establish a Remote Working Strategy based on three pillars: promoting remote working, protecting workers from unfair remote working models, and integrating flexible working with other strategies such as tackling obesity.