News & Views Back

Working from home long term: The Effects on Employee Wellbeing


The labour market has been hugely affected by the COVID pandemic.  Many of us have had to adjust ways of working significantly as offices temporarily closed and working from home was enforced.  But as the pandemic comes to an end, what happens next?  What lessons have employers learnt from this shift to homeworking and will we all eventually head back to the office, or continue to work from home more?

Although this shift wasn’t planned for, it has provided many businesses with a useful “trial run” period and there now seems to be a rise in willingness for employers to reassess their flexible working offering longer term. Hopefully this will be beneficial for many employees and will help to support work – life balance, reduce time and cost of commutes and employees will have less distractions.  Productivity can be maintained or increased providing there is the right support, collaboration and technology in place

In April 2021, the CIPD published a report with the findings of an 8 month employer survey  – Flexible working: lessons from the pandemic (CIPD, 2021).

The study found that 63% of participants said they planned to introduce or increase hybrid working combining homeworking and office working.  The surveys key findings included both positive and negative factors.

Homeworking was more productive for some employees because of fewer distractions and work intensification and avoiding a commute was a big plus for employees  However team relationships and knowledge sharing can potentially suffer which can also affect innovation, some workers may feel socially isolated and work-life boundaries need to be managed.

Tips to support your employees when working from home

  • Establish a company homeworking policy.  This should include clear guidelines on health and safety, working hours and detail how employees will be managed and monitored and promote the segmentation of work and home life.
  • Carry out electronic risk assessments and evaluation of working resources and home workspace to ensure employees can work comfortably, productively and safely. 
  • Ensure that employees have access to training and technical support for all work technology.
  • Allocate a budget for equipment and provide all employees with appropriate kit such as desks, computers, chairs, as well as a secure internet connection.
  • Increase communication between managers and employees where possible and encourage team interaction. 
  • Ensure management are offering regular support and recognition to employees. 
  • Employees should be encouraged to take regular breaks, leave the house and take exercise.
  • Make time for informal conversations.  Set up regular online coffee mornings, virtual lunches and encourage communication and collaboration with colleagues and management. 
  • Build a community by offering regular opportunities to keep in touch.
  • Increase mental health support and build awareness of mental health.
  • Talk openly about mental health issues and encourage communication about this particularly with younger workers whose mental health is more likely to be affected by working from home. 
  • Train managers to help to recognise signs of work-related stress and identify those who may be struggling.  Provide clear guidance to managers so they are confident in their abilities to offer support to team members.