Despite, or perhaps because of, months of time spent in a new hybrid work environment in which many employees are continuing to work from home, perspectives on work/life balance have shifted significantly. Some who may have previously longed for more time at home now wish they could return to the office. Others who said remote work could never be done have recognized they were largely wrong.
Today’s employees—and their managers—are finding that work/life balance priorities have changed since March 2020, when the pandemic hit. This is obviously of interest to employers as the virus shows signs of ebbing and they consider when, or whether, to bring employees back into the workplace.
More Productive from Home?
Employees who are able to work from home find they can achieve a better work/life balance in simple ways. Toss a load of clothes into the wash during a quick break. Go outside for a walk during lunch. Chat with kids and partners at various times throughout the day. Pet the dog or cat.
And, despite these activities that might once have been viewed as distractions at best or “loafing” at worst, a study by Nintex that’s based on input from 1,000 U.S. full-time workers at organizations with 501–50,000 employees found that “70 percent of those surveyed report that their experiences working from home have been better and more productive than they expected, citing more family time, no commute, fewer interruptions, and improved work-life balance.”
That’s good news for employers and employees alike.
What Workers Want
Nintex points to some highlights from its research:
- Employees say they’re able to get more done quicker when working from home—41% say they’re getting more work done in “far less” time while working remotely.
- Employees are appreciating access to software to help them get their work done more efficiently by automating manual and repetitive tasks.
- While Baby Boomers say they’d like to be better compensated for their work, Gen Z respondents are more interested in access to better technology.
While workers are split in terms of whether they want to come back to the office when it’s safe to do so, 51% of all respondents say they’d prefer to stay at home.
What worked in 2019 isn’t likely to work in 2021. Employers need to stay attuned to both worker preference and the productivity impacts of a hybrid work environment.