work life balance
Work life balance: The effect of Covid-19 and remote working

The term “work life balance” has changed significantly due to the pandemic. As most companies and organisations switched to remote working during the lockdown to keep their services and operations alive, how we balance or differentiate our work from our normal daily lives have been affected.

Remote working has been practised by most tech companies, and this has been a perk offered to employees. This “perk” has been a means for employees to better manage their time between work and other commitments, whilst also being productive at work. The use of technological tools have also played a major part in how companies become more remote worthy.

Technological tools

The technological tools to do this has always been at our fingertips but has not always been considered before the global pandemic. However, as we have all been forced into a time where remote working became a norm for the past 5 months, the work life balance of employees has been taken into consideration and how effective their work has been. This meant that companies and organisations had to provide a means for their staff to have a smooth transition to work remotely and have a good experience. Such tools include Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, Discord and others.

Remote working productivity

work life balance

A survey by Eden McCallum in its third version of the Covid-19 survey series, has shown that the sentiment of European business leaders has changed over the past few weeks. Many have reported that productivity from workers has improved, thanks to the positive impacts of remote working on the lives of their staff.

In their report, Eden McCallum reported that the lockdown restrictions saw a half of their respondents stated that about 80% of their staff were working remotely and about a 5th of the companies with 100% staff working remotely. Out of these, 43% stated that they had seen positive effects on their productivity compared to just 29% with the opposite. From this, we can see that working remotely has indeed had a positive impact on the work life of employees. There are some factors that could have contributed to this rise in productivity.

Positive effects of working from home

  • Reduced commuting time: with lockdown and social distancing measures in place, an increased number of employees are working from home. The time spent sitting in traffic and rush hour train commutes have been eliminated from some workers daily lives.
  • Increased collaboration: As most companies adopted remote working technology, this also gave them the capability to interact with each other more including messaging and video conferencing.
  • More time spent with family: As more employees work from home, it also means more time to spend with their families and creating time fathers and mothers can spend seeing their children, so this has contributed to a boost in morale of some employees.

Negative effects of working from home

Although we have some positive outlook on the work life balance of some staff, there are also some negatives including:

  • Working longer: for some, differentiating between their work life and normal life has been difficult. They may spend a long time working as they are free to start and finish whenever they want to. The fact that their work is at home with them, doesn’t help the situation.
  • Companies encourage their staff to stick to strict time limits. However, some find it difficult to stop working and end up working overtime.
  • A downturn in company morale: Company morale and motivation saw a steep decline during the lockdown. Most of these could be attributed to the economic and health situation Covid-19 has put them in. With some having family members affected by Covid and the loss of contact with family and friends. This was sure to affect the mental health of some workers and cause a decline in staff morale.

What next?

A survey by Eden McCallum has shown that 65% of employers will continue to introduce and encourage remote working. This shows that covid-19 has influenced how we view working from the office. This will potentially boost productivity and talent sourcing as they will not be restricted by location. Staff are currently not willing to return to the office anytime soon, although employers are encouraging them to do so. Employers are also considering changing the office layout to encourage social distancing at work.  What is the point of getting staff back in the office if productivity has increased? Employees are happy and willing to work from home, so there is no strong reason to force them back.

Companies that have extended remote working include Google, Twitter, Siemens, Facebook and other companies. Will other smaller companies follow the example lead by Google? Some are planning on including permanent remote working including Twitter, Square and Facebook. As a result of the pandemic, we have now seen an increase in the interest in working remotely. Some prospective employees will soon consider this as a requirement. We are yet to see the long term effects this has on the work life balance of employees.

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