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Almost exactly a year on from the UK government declaring the first lockdown that resulted in millions of workers relying on home networks to do their jobs, research by Egress has found that the massed ranks of remote workers are still struggling with distracting working environments, stress and an “always on” culture.
The human layer security platform provider’s report Remote working: one year on, independently conducted by Arlington Research on behalf of Egress, interviewed 500 IT leaders and 3,000 remote-working employees in the US and UK across vertical sectors covering financial services, healthcare and legal.
It found that as many as three-quarters of remote workers reported feeling worse as a result of long-term working from home, with more than one-third (39%) feeling more stressed. It also revealed a significant generational divide, with 66% of millennial and generation Z workers reporting feeling tired, stressed or under more pressure at work, compared with 34% of baby boomer and generation X employees.
Also, a year on from first having to work from home, almost half (48%) of millennial and generation Z remote workers are still using a shared space, compared with 33% of baby boomers and generation X. Overall, just 28% of remote workers have solo access to a home office.
And wherever people found themselves to be working, their communication habits have changed over time. As many as 85% of employees were sending more emails and 77% were using video-conferencing tools such as Zoom more frequently than before the pandemic.
The survey also revealed a clear shift in attitudes towards flexible working over the past year. Before the pandemic, 43% of respondents were based in the office full-time; now just 28% are currently planning to return to the office full-time once that option becomes available.
Hybrid working was the most popular choice, with 68% of remote workers saying they would like a mixture of office and remote working. Just 5% of remote workers plan to work from home full-time in the future.
And when it comes to returning full-time, there is a clear generational divide, with 35% of millennials and generation Z staff planning to return full-time, compared with 22% of their baby boomer and generation X counterparts.
“For those who have been working from home for the last year, there have been significant changes to a typical working day,” said Richard Mortimer, chief people officer at Egress. “For many remote workers, these findings will contain lots of familiar points – many have experienced increased work pressures, stress and distractions during this period, and for younger employees in particular, challenges around shared workspaces can be particularly difficult.
“While for some employees, remote working has been a welcome break from the office and the daily commute, for others it has been a different story. With many organisations now contemplating what the future looks like in terms of returning to the office, it is important that all employees’ voices are heard.”
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