Previously, we spoke about the possible return of remote work due to the rail strike and the how the experience of remote employees can be supported. With further action still possible, industrial action occurring in the UK and European airline industry causing cancellations and delays, and the ongoing cost of living crisis, we wonder now if remote work will come back stronger than ever. The ongoing rising costs of, and disruptions to, commuting to work may encourage many to request remaining home to work remotely. With this in mind, we would like to set out a couple of key benefits and drawbacks of working remotely for employee experience and your organisation in these trying times.
Improved Employee Retention
In a guide produced by the Northern Ireland business information channel, increased employee retention was identified as a benefit of remote work due to the flexibility that it offers. With increased flexibility, remote employees can make time for childcare, their personal needs and, key to our thinking, cut out the commute. Set out by news and opinion outlet, Vox, the health impacts of commuting are likely well known: higher rates of blood pressure, diabetes and anxiety, particularly in regard to driving alone to work. By cutting this out, the most apparent change in an employee is likely going to be a drop off in frustration at the beginning of the day that driving encourages. This is less so for people taking public transport, but the overall experience is still regarded as negative.
All of this is a benefit without considering the recent reasons employees may have for requesting more remote work. The UK is currently going through a cost-of-living crisis on consumer goods; one that government sources predict may not alleviate until 2023. With this being regularly reported on, it would not be surprising to hear of employees wishing to work remotely solely to save money on commutes to be allocated for more essential things.
However, as with everything in life, the benefits of remote work also has its drawbacks. A particular drawback in regard to employee retention is that the lack of in-office communication can lead to a general deficit in communication. We become used to not seeing colleagues around us and are unable to gauge whether our managers are available to hear our concerns. Therefore, said concerns from remote employees may go unsubmitted but still be prevalent for them. While some employers can encourage employees to reach out when they have a problem, some people are reluctant to express negative sentiment unless asked first. Therefore, it is important to maintain regular contact with your remote employees as unseen, unreported concerns may build up to a resignation some way down the road. If the employer understands the sentiment of the employee beforehand, they stand at a better chance of rectifying the concerns and thus retaining their team. An organisation’s employees are their biggest asset. Organisations would do well to ensure their employees feel as supported as possible.
As the point above alludes to, cutting out the commute can have a benefit on the employee's overall wellbeing. Take away the health drawbacks of commuting; add in the benefit of additional sleep and an employee is likely to feel physically and mentally better to be working from home. If sleep was previously a challenge for employees, the opportunity of more quality sleep can increase motivation and productivity.
Again, working from home can also its drawbacks on our wellbeing. It can be isolating for people, especially those who live alone. While it may be healthy to cut out a commute, cutting out the destination means that we’re missing out on the real-world social interaction we have with colleagues at the office. The key here is to work around and alleviate this drawback for your employees. So how do we do this? If your organisation can accommodate, continue to let the individual work from work but check in regularly with them. As recommended by the NHS, this shouldn’t be email. Organising a Friday catch-up video call for example can help remote employees feel less isolated and act as a reminder of the real human face behind the company they work for, usually translated to text in the modern world of chat and email.
As we mention in the first point, also take the time to listen to your employees wants and needs in these catch-up meetings. As well as encouraging retention by caring for your employees, the simple act of listening and agreeing to act upon feedback, even if the act proves undoable in the long run, will help to instil in the individual that they are listened to and considered by their employer, in turn working to increase their sense of value and therefore their mental well-being.
At Bright Horse, we understand that some companies are struggling to manage priorities on limited budgets. With this in mind, you could think about delaying designing and implementing XLAs, deciding to hold on rather than take on another project, but with the world today and its hiring and living cost worries, ensuring a good and healthy experience for your employees is now vital to ensure the well-being of not just your employees, but also your organisation. A delay in implementing XLAs, is a delay in understanding and improving your employees experience, welfare and engagement. Bright Horse can support your organisation to discover your current experience landscape and ensure a good experience for your employees or customers moving forward. Contact us for more.
Frost, R., 2022. BA, Ryanair and easyJet strikes: When are airline staff walkouts happening this summer? euronews.com. Available at: https://www.euronews.com/travel/2022/06/22/ryanair-ba-and-easyjet-strikes-when-are-airline-walkouts-happening-this-summer Accessed: June 2022.
McCann, J., 2022. RMT rail strike dates and why there could be more after this week's walkouts. inews.co.uk. Available at: https://inews.co.uk/news/train-strikes-when-next-rmt-rail-strike-dates-this-week-walkouts-1704720 Accessed: June 2022.
Newsom, R., 2022. The Link Between Sleep and Job Performance. Sleep Foundation. Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/good-sleep-and-job-performance Accessed: July 2022
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Nibusinessinfo.co.uk., n.d. Advantages and disadvantages of employees working at home. nibusinessinfo.co.uk. Available at: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/advantages-and-disadvantages-employees-working-home Accessed: June 2022.
Vox, 2018. It's not you. Commuting is bad for your health. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfPNxNIDHrA Accessed: June 2022.