From living together to “colleagues” – how have we found the transition?
Almost all of us have experienced some changes to our working lives this year, whether that’s taking extra precautions at work, being in and out of the workplace, or working from home permanently.
As companies around the country have been plunged into remote working, it’s meant many in the same household have been plunged into working at home together too. This took our personal relationships to another level and turned our friends, family and partners to “colleagues” of sorts.
So how has the UK found the experience of working alongside the people we live with? We surveyed 1,008 employed adults to find out.
- 45% of employees say that their relationship with the people they live with has become stronger during their time working from home together
- 23% say that they’ve learned the person they live with ‘works much harder than they say they do’, 13% feel their housemate had hidden how professional they are, while 12% feel the person they live with has an ‘unusual working routine’
- But you might be annoying the people you live and work with – over 1 in 5 (22%) found the person they live with to have the bad habit of ‘distracting me while I work’, followed by ‘making noise while I’m on a call’ (20%) and ‘speaking loudly on their calls’ (20%)
- ‘Trying not to distract each other’ is the biggest difficulty of working at home with someone else (42%), followed by ‘needing to leave the room so you can both be on a call’ (24%)
- Despite any difficulties, 58% have extremely enjoyed or enjoyed their time working from home
Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder – 45% say their relationship with those they live with has become stronger during their time living and working from home together
Of the 1,008 people we surveyed, 42% have had a partner at home with them while they worked from home, 36% had family including children, 5% had housemates around and 2% lived with friends.
Either all or some of the time, two-thirds of these people were also working from home. These stats show that UK employees have spent a lot of time around the people they live with this year.
For many, all of this time together has actually had positive effects. 45% of employees say that their relationship with the people they live with has become stronger during their time working from home together.
51% say that their relationship is the same as before working at home together, with just 4% feeling that their relationship is now not as strong.
Getting to know each other’s jobs, ‘having someone to make me lunch’ and hearing housemates ‘in professional mode’ are among what remote workers have liked most
Positively, in a stressful and turbulent year, remote workers have a lot that they’ve liked about working at home alongside the people they live with.
60% have enjoyed spending more time together, while a quarter have enjoyed getting to know more about what the people they live with do on a daily basis – helping to give those conversations about work over dinner a little more context.
This also led to home workers enjoying the treat of hearing the ones they live with in ‘professional mode’ (18%) and getting to know their housemate’s/friend’s/partner’s colleagues more through hearing calls (7%).
Many employees also felt some culinary advantages. 52% have enjoyed the opportunity to eat lunch together, while ‘having someone to make me lunch’ (20%) and ‘going on walking breaks together’ (36%) also made the top list of the most enjoyable aspects of this new situation.
But – are you talking too much, taking up a lot of space or wearing your pyjamas all day? You’re probably annoying the person you work from home with
Despite this experience bringing people closer together, this extra time in each other's company has led to employees noticing some bad habits forming in their new ‘colleagues’.
22% of employees say that the worst habit of those they work from home with is ‘distracting me while I work’, followed by ‘making noise when I’m on a call’ (20%).
It also seems like the lack of boundaries in remote working is affecting more than just the person overstepping them. ‘Working late into the evening’ is another common trait that remote workers dislike about their new work from home partner (17%).
A further 9% say that they have to creep around their housemates as they don’t like any noise, while the same amount have noticed those they live with to have the bad habit of waking up too late. Bad habits also include working in pyjamas all day (6%) and not showering (4%).
What’s the worst habit of the person you’re working from home with?
(select as many as apply)
1. Distracting me while I work – 22%
2. Making noise while I’m on a call – 20%
3. Speaking loudly on their calls – 20%
4. Working late into the evening – 17%
5. Not wanting any noise – 9%
6. Waking up too late – 9%
7. Talking too much – 9%
8. Taking up a lot of space – 9%
9. Wants the temperature at home to be too cold – 6%
10. Working in pyjamas all day – 6%
11. Wants the temperature to be too hot – 5%
12. Not showering – 4%
13. Playing music – 4%
This time together has also led to new revelations
You know everything there is to know about the people you live with, right? Wrong, apparently. This time working at home together has led to Brits learning more about each other than they knew before.
Almost a quarter (23%) said that the person they live with had been ‘hiding how hard they work’, with it coming to light during this time.
1 in 5 said they learned how easily distracted their work from home partner is, while 13% have hidden how professional they are.
Interestingly, more than 1 in 10 (12%) stated that the person they’re living and working with has an ‘unusual working routine’ – we’re intrigued.
Remote workers have even started to notice the little things that we somehow missed before. 10% said they learned that the person they live with is a loud typer, they talk to themselves at work (9%), they use a lot of jargon (7%) and they’re more outspoken at work than they are at home (6%).
What, if anything, have you learned about the person/people you’re working at home with during this time?
(select as many as apply)
1. They work much harder than they say they do – 23%
2. They’re distracted easily – 20%
3. They’ve hidden how professional they are – 13%
4. They have an unusual working routine – 12%
5. They’re a loud typer – 10%
6. They talk to themselves when they work – 9%
7. They use a lot of jargon – 7%
8. They are more outspoken at work than they are at home – 6%
9. Nothing – 23%
The biggest difficulties of working at home with someone else include trying not to distract each other and not having any time apart
Of course, a new routine is going to come with a whole new set of challenges. Although many remote workers in 2020 have enjoyed the process overall, there have been some difficulties.
The number one difficulty of working at home with someone else is ‘trying not to distract each other’ – with 42% of employees experiencing this issue.
Conflicting meetings and calls also brought some troubles, 24% found ‘needing to leave the room so you can both be on a call’ to be a difficulty, while just less than a quarter (24%) struggled with the sudden change of being around each other all day.
Top 5 biggest difficulties of working at home with someone else
1. Trying not to distract each other – 42%
2. Needing to leave the room so we can both be on a call – 24%
3. Being around each other all day – 24%
4. Working to different schedules – 21%
5. Trying to coordinate times to be on calls in the same room – 16%
On the other hand, almost 1 in 5 seem to be in home-working bliss, with 19% saying that no difficulties arose.
But there are solutions – the top ways to a happy work from home life include using headphones and syncing up lunchtimes
Thankfully, remote employees have found ways to get around these issues.
‘Making it known ahead of time if you need quiet’ has been found to be the most popular solution, with 56% relying on this method to keep the peace.
This is followed by 48% who like to block out the noise and have found headphones to be the answer to all those pesky distractions.
Other solutions found include syncing up lunchtimes (38%), communicating which space someone is going to use (26%), creating a schedule of when you’re going to need the room (8%) and finally, for those who like to ensure zero distractions, 8% have found the solution to be ‘don’t talk throughout the day’.
Overall, remote working has been a mostly enjoyable experience
Despite this being a hard year, thankfully, many have been able to find some positives within their time working from home. Almost 6 in 10 (58%) have either extremely enjoyed or enjoyed their time working from home during 2020.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, not having to commute was the most enjoyable benefit, with over three-quarters of employees stating that this was what they’ve enjoyed the most.
42% have enjoyed being able to work to their own schedule, having the ability to focus (38%) and the peace (36%) – no one is missing the open-plan office then?
Of course, it’s not all joyful. Employees cited reduced social opportunities (63%), keeping motivated (41%), feelings of isolation (39%) and lack of variation in working days (34%) as the difficulties faced.
On the whole, it’s nice to see that many remote employees were able to find some positives in a difficult year and that housemates, families and partners were able to stand in as colleagues until employees can safely return to their workplaces.