Moving abroad, leaving cities and bigger homes: employees feel their lives might be set for big changes
- Only 31% of employers have asked employees how they wish to work remotely in the future
- 3 in 10 believe employees should be able to work from anywhere in the world
- Almost a third of Londoners would consider relocating to another part of the UK if their company turned to 100% remote working
- 1 in 5 believe with less physical meetings, working days should be shorter to avoid digital fatigue
- 47% believe spaces dedicated to work will be more important when buying/renting homes
- 41% feel companies should pay employees more as their office costs are reduced
- 85% of employees believe that more remote working will improve diversity in the workplace
With so many changes to working routines over recent months, many are now asking: “What does the future hold?”
As many employees have felt the benefits of remote working, masses are calling for it to become the norm in the ‘New Working World’. The next question is: Just how flexible should employers be with these policies? And how should these ways of working be managed?
These changes have the opportunity to greatly impact where employees live and work in the future – while also opening up a huge opportunity for companies to diversify their workforce.
To find out what the British workforce thinks the future of remote working should look like, we surveyed 1,296 employees.
Just 30% of employees have been asked by their employer how they would like to work in the future – but many have strong opinions
It goes without saying that remote working will switch up traditional working routines. The real question lies with how this should be managed.
The majority of employees are currently in the dark about how they’ll be working in the future. Just a third of employees state that their employer has communicated future plans for remote working policies with staff, while only 30% of employees have been asked by their employer how they would like to work in the future.
Whether or not they have been asked by their employers, employees have some ideas on what remote working policies should look like.
27% think that their employer should consider abolishing the traditional 9-to-5 structure in the future, while a quarter feel that their employer should switch to a four-day working week.
It’s also believed that the working day should adapt too. With less physical meetings, over 1 in 5 (21%) feel that working days should be shorter to avoid digital fatigue, followed by 16% who feel that work/life balance will be harder to control if remote working becomes more common.
Positively, the thought of increased remote working isn’t leading to employees fearing for their jobs. Just 3% are concerned that their role will be outsourced to another country due to remote working, in order to save money.
3 in 10 feel that remote employees should be able to work from anywhere in the world
The next question related to remote working surrounds how flexible employers should be with these policies.
The results revealed that many employees feel that employers should be very flexible, with a huge 30% believing that remote employees should be able to work from anywhere in the world.
Although not all are in agreement that workplaces should be spread quite so far afield, many believe there’s still scope for movement. A further 1 in 10 (11%) believe staff employed by a company based in the UK should be able to work from anywhere in Europe/a similar time zone, while 1 in 5 feel that employees must remain in the UK.
On the other hand, some feel that staying close to the office is important. As 20% feel that employees should stay in a commutable distance.
Overall, the results show that many feel their office shouldn’t restrain employees as much on where they live and work in the future. Just 3% believe that employees shouldn’t be allowed to work from home.
But how many would take advantage of these flexible remote working policies?
After thinking about how flexible employees think employers should be with remote working policies, it seems that many would be keen to take advantage of this option.
Many employees are dreaming of sunnier climates. 15% state that they would like to move outside of the UK should their company switch to 100% remote working.
Another quarter would like to move to a different part of the UK, and 14% would move away from the city centre.
Almost a third of Londoners would consider relocating to another part of the UK if their company turned to 100% remote working
Looking into those who would move to a different part of the UK, it may come as no surprise that the capital city is most likely to lose residents should complete remote working routines become the norm.
Almost a third (32%) of those living in London said that they’d move to another part of the UK if their company moved to complete remote working, followed by over a quarter (28%) of those in the South East. Those in Wales are least likely to consider relocating.
“In the future, if my company moved to 100% remote working, I would consider moving to a different part of the UK”
Greater London – 32%
South East – 28%
East Midlands – 25%
East of England – 24%
West Midlands – 24%
South West – 23%
North West – 20%
Scotland – 19%
Yorkshire & the Humber – 18%
North East – 18%
Northern Ireland – 17%
Wales – 7%
But it’s not just in the ability to move location that’s seen as a benefit. Some believe remote working will open up employment opportunities further afield. 9% would like to test out the international market and work for a company based in another country/location.
Finally, not everyone is so willing to take up the complete remote working lifestyle. Just over 1 in 10 (12%) would miss the workplace and would find a job that wasn’t 100% remote working.
Read next: Furlough, returning to work and adapting to new working routines – how are employees feeling about recent changes?
Close to half feel that spaces dedicated to work will be more important when buying/renting houses in the future
Employees aren’t only thinking about the impacts that more remote working may have on where employees work, they’re also thinking about how it will affect their personal lives.
Sadly, the majority of employees feel that remote working will take its toll on workplace friendships, with 65% feeling that this will lead to less social communities/connections in workplaces.
It’s also believed that work/life balance will be affected as 43% think remote working will cause employees to work longer hours. Unfortunately, it’s also felt that this extra work may come with little reward – 41% feel it will be harder to progress in careers when working remotely.
Not only do these effects of the New Working World impact social and workplace wellbeing, but employees are also gearing up for the impact on their homes.
Almost half (47%) feel that spaces dedicated to work will be more important when buying/renting homes in the future, highlighting that employees are ready to adapt their homes to suit their new lifestyles and working routines. This might beg the question of how employees will afford these new, spacious homes? 41% feel that companies should pay employees more as their office costs are reduced.
Almost a quarter of employees would consider changing jobs if their employer introduced tracking software
Although remote working is all about giving employees more freedom to work where and how they feel best, some employers might feel the need to check that employees are still fulfilling their duties when they aren’t in the office.
One of the emerging methods for employers to monitor productivity levels of remote working is to use tracking software which can be installed onto an employees’ computer. This allows an employer to see activity, such as when the employee is online and how much time they spend on software and programmes throughout the day.
Just 5% of respondents stated that their employer has installed productivity tracking software onto employees devices that they are aware of.
Regardless of whether their employer is currently using this software or not, when asked for their opinions, more than half (53%) stated that employers should trust their staff rather than having to track them.
A further 48% feel that tracking software could lead to more stress for employees, while 46% feel that it could cause pressure on employees to be online constantly and feel less able to take breaks (48%) – which has the potential to cause serious impacts to mental and physical wellbeing.
The responses highlighted that employees believe tracking software is an invasion of privacy (28%), and almost a quarter (24%) would consider changing jobs if their employers decided to implement this solution.
Despite some negativity, employees can also see some positives to the software. 30% feel that this software could help to ensure that everyone is working the times and amounts they should. While 16% feel it could boost productivity and improve focus (14%).
85% of employees believe that more remote working will improve diversity in the workplace
Not only does remote working open up the possibility of working from anywhere, it can also open up roles to a wider audience of potential employees.
When asked about the impacts of remote working on diversity, more than half of employees (51%) believe that it will make the job market more diverse as people won’t be as limited by location.
A further 50% believe that remote working will lead to more opportunities for employees with disabilities by removing the need to commute, while only slightly fewer (40%) believe that remote working will lead to greater diversity as it’s more flexible around people’s needs.
Moreover, 31% feel that remote working will lead to employees being judged on their output rather than their gender/age/race/sexual orientation. 23% also believe it will lead to a more diverse range of employee voices being heard.
Overall, just 15% don’t believe that remote working will improve diversity in the workplace.
So, what does the future hold for you and your business?
As part of our New Working World series, we’ll be producing a series of surveys to track employee sentiment towards wellbeing as we move into a work post-coronavirus. This is being run alongside a survey of UK employers to see the business perspective on the wellbeing impact of 2020’s events.
In our September report, we focus on coping with remote working and what employees and companies think the future of work will hold. Take a look here.