​​If we rewind to 2019, we found that millennials were more likely to invest into an employer who offered working from home, and most importantly this became their normal. Not before long, we realized the benefits in working from home appealed to more than the ‘gig economy’. Across the organization, employees favored working from home and employers quickly jumped on the bandwagon to offer flexible working to attract new employees and retain their current talent.

We know this is true because, not only did we refer to this in our Workplace Trends report last year, our marketing content often portrayed this desire to work from home as one of the most attractive perks, if not, must-haves in the Marketing, Media, Digital and Sales industry like ours. Yet, no one would have believed a time would come where employees were forced to work from home overnight – which is exactly what Covid-19 and government restrictions meant for many of us around the world.

It is very interesting to see that change and consider the effects on attitudes to working from home.

Thanks to our candidates and clients, we’ve been able to understand how employers and employees have found working from home recently and the results are quite interesting. When we asked employees, this is what they said.

A decent third of employees found working from home easy (33%), but almost as many said they found it difficult to work from home (22%). These people have had a poor experience these last few months for many reasons. These reasons included, childcare commitments, insufficient equipment or workspaces, lack of work or difficulty getting purchases over the line, or lastly, they were emotionally unhappy, not being able to communicate as effectively with other colleagues, or struggled to balance a demanding work/life balance.

So, compared to pre-Covid-19, we are seeing that working from home is a lot more complex. It is no longer the perfect perk to appeal to employees, and it’s very possible that employees have been now been put off from working from home.

Within our report we dig deeper into these new pressures and realize that most of these reasons have come about because of a ‘sudden’ period of lockdown that really did seem to happen overnight. As a result, we have all found it more difficult than if notice was given. On top of which, school closures have stretched parents both inside and outside work. And finally, restrictions that meant we were unable to socialize or leave home to ease our pressures, suggest we could never have been prepared to work from home in a pandemic.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and had we have known, working from home could have been a doddle. But instead of beating ourselves up over uncontrollable factors, let us all focus on the steps to support each other.

Going back to our graph above, we can see that almost half (46%) of employees were unable to choose whether working from home was easy or difficult. These people can see the positives but have also had some sort of negative experience too. In an uncertain world where we’re all still learning about a so-called new normal, it’s important that both employers and employees work together to discuss how to support working from home. In the case of a ‘second-wave’ we will prove to be more prepared with the following suggestions:

  • HR teams to provide well-being, stress and emotional support

  • IT teams to continue to develop technology and IT infrastructures to access home working

  • Business owners to ensure employees have adequate workspaces and equipment

  • Employees to continuously feedback their needs so they are happy at work

  • Managers to act on feedback to design a safe, comfortable working environment with happy employees.

The workplace will be changing, and if that does include home working, there’s a lot more work to do to ensure both employers and employees are working at a happy medium. To find out more, take a look at our Post-Covid and the Workplace report.