What’s it Really Like to Work from Home?
Over 4.2 million people in the UK now work from home (WFH), which equates to almost 14% of the workforce. That number is only set to grow as more companies plan to introduce flexible working for parents and the ageing population in the future.
Sounds great, right? Ask most people and they’ll tell you it’s their dream to work from home – to spend less time commuting and more time with family – but does the reality match expectations? Not necessarily, according to the report released in February 2017 by the U.N, ILO and Eurofound: Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work.
The study, which surveyed home-working employees from 15 countries, found that 41% of highly mobile workers found that teleworking had both positive and negative effects.
Longer, more intense hours working at home for employees
The greatest benefits to remote working, unsurprisingly, were shortened commute time, better work-life balance, greater autonomy, and higher productivity. However, researchers found that mobile workers were more likely to work longer hours, more intensely, which could lead to higher levels of stress and poor health. These findings aren’t compatible with the view that working from home increases wellbeing.
There is now a solid body of research on the wellbeing and productivity of employees who work from home, like this empirical study on the consequences of home-working carried out by the London School of Economics last year, but what do we know about the impact of home-working for self-employed workers, freelancers and remote contractors?
Are the self-employed better equipped to cope?
With no standardised set-up at home and reduced person-to-person contact for people who work on their own, should there be any concern surrounding the welfare of independent home-workers? Are freelancers suffering from social isolation, low productivity and diminished motivation?
Or are self-employed people doing OK? Are their experiences different to employees because they are their own employer and they have greater control over their situation? This is certainly reflected in research carried out by IPSE, which showed that self-employed people reported higher levels of job satisfaction than in full-time employment due, in part, to the control they had over work/life balance.
1 in 4 people will experience mental illness at some point in their lives, according to the NHS. Depression and feelings of social isolation are on the increase. As the numbers for those working from home also rise, it’s clear that more research is needed to find out if remote working is in fact beneficial or harmful to wellbeing.
What do you think? We’re currently exploring the pros and cons of working from home. You can help by completing the 2-minute anonymous survey here: Is Working from Home as Great as Everyone Thinks