People want to work to live, not live to work, suggests a survey published last week on the nature of remote and freelance work.
Of the more than 350 people surveyed, 88% think the working world has changed forever and nine out of ten believe the coronavirus pandemic has removed barriers to remote working.
Three quarters of remote workers plan to work from home more in the coming year, and 37% who don’t currently work remotely or freelance plan to switch industries in the next year so they can.
HomeWorkingClub founder Ben Taylor said: “It’s clear that workers want to do more remote work and have more control over their lifestyle.
“Companies need to mould their operations around the new normal – and that means factoring in ways to ensure that their employees can prioritise their family life and their health in the long-term as well as the short-term.”
The survey, conducted in July by online portal HomeWorkingClub, found that home, health and family took precedence over professional development and career progression when ranked in order of importance by respondents.
A mix of remote workers, freelancers and those who don’t work from home took part in the survey.
Data from the Office for National Statistics, released in March, shows that prior to lockdown around 1.7 million people in the UK mainly worked from home.
Mr Taylor thinks the workplace changes ushered in by the coronavirus are here to stay.
He added: “The genie’s not going back in the bottle however much the government and commercial property landlords may want it to. Many employers are likely to introduce hybrid arrangements.”
Two thirds of respondents said they have no intention of working full-time in an office in 10 years’ time.
Remote working could have an adverse effect on urban areas, transforming them into doughnut cities, where city centres are left empty as the concentration of work shifts to the suburban belt.
Mr Taylor said: “City centres will undoubtedly be affected, and we’re already hearing from companies like Pret a Manger that are struggling due to the lack of commuters.
“But there’s a flip side to it too. In smaller towns like the one I live in, smaller businesses are thriving because home workers are using them instead.”
Even though three quarters of respondents said more family and leisure time is one of the best things about remote working, the survey found there are downsides to this lifestyle.
Chief among them was the feeling of being disconnected from colleagues, technical issues and social isolation.
It is key to look after your mental health when working remotely. Mr Taylor, who has freelanced since 2004, has suffered from anxiety which was exacerbated when he began remote working.
He said: “It is easy to inadvertently leave yourself quite housebound and it takes some bouncing back from. Self-care is really important.”
However, seven out of 10 respondents cited stress reduction as a principal benefit of remote working.
The full survey can be found here: www.homeworkingclub.com/work-to-live-not-live-to-work/.