As the UK workforce are once again being told to work from home..

Business Insights

..if possible, a recent survey has revealed that over half of the nation’s employees claim that their mental health is better when working remotely.

Commissioned by free conference call providers, WHYPAY?, the research highlights that 1 in 5 employees claims to be an “all-round happier person” when working from home. More strikingly, 43% admitted that they were actually unhappy about returning to the workplace.

“The fact that there is so much scary stuff happening in the world that we have no control over, can make us feel overwhelmed and powerless. Being snuggled up at home in our little bubbles helps to make us feel safer,"

says Nadia Finer, Founder of Shy and Mighty.

“The constant sense of uncertainty and the feeling of being out of control has had an impact on our mental health. We’re living in a heightened state of anxiety, with every news update adding to our jitters”.

More work is getting done

53% of employees who have worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic state that they get far more work done when working remotely.

Indeed, Elliot Green, Chief Marketing Officer at WHYPAY? commented:

“We’re seeing 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.

“Clearly, the effects of lockdown on mental health vary massively depending on individual circumstances. There can be no doubt that reducing social contact both inside and outside the workplace is detrimental to our wellbeing, but that such a significant proportion of the workforce believe their mental health is improved by working from home cannot be ignored."

An interesting finding from the study is the demographic differences of opinion on remote working.

The area apparently the most content with working from home is Scotland (51%); along with West Midlands (50%), East of England (49%), and Greater London (47%).

Furthermore, 54% of men (compared to 47% of women) admit their mental health is better when working from home, and 52% of 16-24-year-olds agree.

Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant Lee Chambers said:

“Many men have certainly had time to reflect during this pandemic period. While men carry out a wide variety of roles, the opportunity to work remotely has been a benefit that men, especially millennials, have been asking for.

“While adapting, many men have benefited from improved mental health even in the face of a global pandemic and the underlying anxiety. Increased autonomy, increased family time, more flexibility with lifestyle and self-care, and more time to slow down and reflect have increased men's clarity on what is most important to them."

Is remote working the future?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to view many aspects of our lives differently. WHYPAY?’s survey, shows the trend resonates with UK employees. Half of workers agree that the pandemic has changed their views of their job, and 40% believe their work could be carried out entirely from home.

Many would like their employer to offer some level of remote work long-term, and a quarter would choose to take a significant pay cut if it meant working remotely in the future.

Vicki Workman, Manager of G4 Guitar in Croydon, said,

“I was always open to the idea, having run my business from home for the past 15 years. Our guitar lessons have always taken place in person and it never crossed our minds to offer online lessons because we assumed (wrongly it turns out!) that people wouldn't go for them. However, the COVID-19 lockdown, forced us into it and we realised that there are many things we can actually do better online.”

Similarly, Managing Director of Sleeping Giant Media Anthony Klokkou said:

“Remote working was on the cards pre-Covid, but not to the current extent. We’re now implementing flexible working to address the changes in working expectations and to give our team the freedoms they deserve. Remote working is working well for us and we have worked hard to keep communication high across the business, whilst supporting this cultural development.”

The study has shown that the UK workforce has valid reasons to prefer working from home, which aren’t just about those extra minutes in bed and avoiding the daily commute. Furthermore, given the rise in COVID-19 cases and the unpredictability of the pandemic, it is understandable that people simply prefer to work from home. But will traditional office working become a thing of the past in the future?

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

“COVID-19 has changed the world, with thousands of businesses having 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. Data reveals that many people prefer working at home, indicating that the future may be remote. To better support individuals, we have to take into account what the WHYPAY statistics have revealed."