The silver linings to the Covid-19 cloud often involve a new sourdough habit or less time commuting. The Office for National Statistics has done a study of working patterns during the pandemic which may show some more unexpected silver linings. Unsurprisingly, the study (which looked at working patterns over the last 10 years) showed that more of us are working at home, rising to more than a third of the population during the pandemic.
Far from showing homeworking meant slacking off, the survey showed that there was an unpaid overtime boom in favour of employers during the pandemic. Full time homeworkers did the most unpaid overtime in 2020, with an average of 6 hours a week of unpaid overtime compared to 3.6 hours a week for non-homeworkers. The study also showed that sickness levels for homeworkers actually fell during the pandemic, albeit at just under 1 per cent. There is a suggestion that this may mean people are working through periods of illness rather than taking time off, which may not always be a good thing.
Andrew Mawson of Advanced Workplace Associates has said that the data shows how much employees have embraced home working during lockdown with many wanting to retain this kind of flexibility in future. He said surveys suggest that only five per cent of employees are now happy to work five days a week in the office, from 45 per cent before lockdown. If employers can come to some sort of compromise with employees, a hybrid model of home and office working, the advantages may go further than overtime and sickness. Whether employees spend the freed-up commuting time on the sourdough starter or making an early start on work so they can do the school run, it’s easy to see how a better work-life balance is much more easily achieved. Happy employees are invariably more productive, and flexibility creates loyalty. Win win.
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