Working from home has lifted productivity and work-life balance

10 June 2020 4 min. read

Eden McCallum has released the third version of its Covid-19 survey series, revealing how the sentiment of European business leaders has changed over the past three weeks. While fears of a protracted economic impact from the crisis have deepened, many have also reported that productivity is up, thanks to the positive impacts home working have had on the lives of staff.

Of all the things UK residents are looking forward to post-Covid-19, heading back to the office does not seem to be high on the list. A recent survey by CIL Management Consultants also found that their attitudes to work and leisure may be permanently changed, meanwhile, as 33% said they expect to work remotely more often than before the coronavirus pandemic, while almost a third expect to save rather than spend wages in preparation for similar situations.

One of the persisting worries among many bosses is that working from home means staff become less productive – as it becomes harder to subject their activities to the panopticon of surveillance that is common-place in office life. However, those worried they cannot trust their employees to fulfill their responsibilities from beyond the confines of the company compound might want to reconsider their position in light of new evidence from Eden McCallum.

Impact of remote working on one’s company / colleagues

In the third edition of the firm’s Covid-19 survey series, researchers found that a majority of European executives and managers have seen productivity increase while their staff work remotely. Of 180 individuals polled (the majority of which are based in the UK), Eden McCallum found that coronavirus restrictions saw over half of respondents state more than 80% of their employees were currently working from home, with around one fifth of companies operating with 100% of employees working from home. Of those, 43% said it had positively impacted productivity, compared to just 29% saying the opposite.

Part of this may be down to the fact many firms also reported an improved work-life balance among staff. Around 62% said that the balance was better than before the lock-down, perhaps thanks to the fact employees no longer lose hours out of their day sitting in traffic as they commute to the office.

Oddly enough, despite workers being further apart, 46% of respondents also found that they had become better at collaborating, against 34% who said the situation had negatively impacted collaboration. These two factors could prove crucial to the post-coronavirus recovery, as high productivity and collaboration will be crucial factors in many firms turning around the massive economic hit they have taken from the pandemic. Illustrating the severity of the worsening economic situation, 65% of respondents expected business to take over nine months to recover, a dramatic change from the 39% who said so in early April.

As the lockdown eases across Europe, 65% of employers highlighted that they will continue to encourage remote working, suggesting that Covid-19 is set to structurally ramp up demand for home working – something which may actually help them by boosting productivity in the long-term. Meanwhile, only 6% are currently actively encouraging a return to onsite work, and in response are making changes to workplace layouts to enable physical distancing, and introducing staggered shifts.

Employers have not only reported positive changes among their workforce, however. Company morale and motivation both saw steep declines in recent months. While some of this might be accounted for by a loss of contact with friends and colleagues, however, some of it must surely relate to the economic situation Covid-19 has placed them in.

Around 60% of the leaders surveyed said that they are considering permanent reductions to their workforce once government support ends, with profit-driven private equity backed businesses most likely to cut staff – not something likely to put many workers in a good mood.