UK hybrid workers feel the strain

Survey reveals that UK homeworkers suffer most in Europe from a poor working experience, in turn leading to knock-on negative effect in customer experience due to lack of space

In the post-Covid world of working, improvements in work-life balance to support hybrid working are a necessity for all firms with knowledge workers, but a survey from NFON regarding remote work in Europe has revealed that UK homeworkers are suffering the most in terms of the space they have to be productive.

The survey by the European provider of integrated business communications from the cloud, the Wellbeing report: Working from home 22, examines numerous stress and disruptive factors experienced while working from home and the working from home paradox. It was conducted by Statista Q in the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Poland and Portugal, with more than 1,000 participants per country. Participants’ answers generally referred to the period from the beginning of the Covid pandemic until current working from home practices.

NFON said the findings of the survey represent a wake-up call for employers, especially those in the UK, who should move to mitigate stress by ensuring suitable business communications offerings and noise-cancelling equipment is provided.

A key finding was that compared with equivalents across Europe, home workers in the UK are more likely to have a poor working experience, mainly through lack of space at home and what is called techno-stress, which was all leading to negative outcomes regarding customer experience. Indeed, they were found to have the most cramped homeworking spaces in Europe, and were the most likely to suffer from technostress and a trend towards self-medication.

Respondents were asked about the specific place where they do their work at home. According to the survey, 18% of UK respondents have moved their workspace to a bedroom compared with 12.1% in the EU, and 32.6% of UK homeworkers were found to be set up to work in the living room (35.7% EU). Compared with 31.8% of EU respondents, just 19.6% of UK homeworkers have a private office. Across Europe, the average space when working from home is 20.32 m². With just 15.35 m², UK citizens have the least amount of homeworking space.

Technostress, otherwise known as digital burnout, was felt by almost a quarter of UK participants in the study, compared with almost one in five in the EU. This type of stress was caused by technical deficiencies such as defective routers, unsuitable equipment, battery problems and more.

Just over a fifth (21.6%) of UK respondents cited a poor internet connection as stressful, compared with 17.2% in the EU, and 19% said that feeling they needed to be constantly accessible was causing them stress (19.7% in the EU). More significantly, 37.2% of UK respondents (35.3% in the EU) said a lack of communication with colleagues was also a cause of stress, as well as a lack of separation between private and professional life (33.6% in UK and 30.3% in EU).

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Overall, the study revealed the relationship between work and leisure is somewhat contradictory. In the UK, 31.6% of respondents stated that their workload has increased (28% in EU) and 27.6% said their working hours have increased (25.2% in EU). At the same time however, 35.9% said they have a better work-life balance and more time for family, friends and health (36% in EU). This, said NFON, was the working from home paradox.

“As a provider of technologies that make working at home easier, faster and more efficient, NFON wants to record and better understand the pain points of employees in the new work model,” said NFON CEO Klaus von Rottkay.

“Through the study we are learning that companies in Europe need to pay much more attention to the quality of the working environment – people, health and wellbeing are very important,” he said. “The new way of working is still in its infancy, and we entrepreneurs can have the biggest influence on making hybrid working models fit for people and companies.”

Christian Montag, professor of molecular psychology, book author and expert on the influence of digital technologies on human psychology, said: “Europe’s businesses must acknowledge the link between digitisation and psychology. Discussions about burnout in the digital age, or technostress, are becoming increasingly important.”

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