Workplace consultancy Leesman has announced a project to analyse how the mass mobilisation of homeworking strategies in response to the Covid-19 crisis is affecting organisations.
The company is adding a new module to its standardised employee experience survey as well as a separate standalone questionnaire so that organisations can ask employees to feedback on their experiences as full-time home workers. Data gleaned from participating organisations will then be anonymised before being analysed by a newly convened ‘CREFM Covid-19 Response Group’ composed of representatives of various professional associations, including IWFM.
Leesman then intends, after current social distancing policies have been lifted, to assess “the impact that prolonged homeworking has on traditionally office-based employees”.
Leesman’s move is based on data it has amassed since it began surveying organisations’ workplace effectiveness. The company suggests that, based on its existing data, businesses “must brace themselves for reduced productivity and innovation”.
Of 139,778 UK workers surveyed, 55 per cent had little or no experience working from home before the Covid-19 outbreak. Respondents aged between 55-64 reported the lowest satisfaction levels with home-working, compared with under-25s, who were the least affected by it. Of those employees who did work from home occasionally, 79 per cent typically did so for just one day a week or less, with just 1 per cent working from home more than four days a week. Only 41 per cent of sporadic home workers had a dedicated room to work from, and 39 per cent did not having a designated workstation or desk.
Leesman’s data further suggests the main risks with home-working include a reduction in sense of community (-11.8 per cent), social interaction (-10.3 per cent), knowledge transfer (-10.0%), learning from others (-13.0 per cent) and informal collaboration (-5.4 per cent).
The newly emerging issue is – how are these affected by whole teams being forced into homeworking?
Tim Oldman, CEO, Leesman: “We urgently need to know how homeworking is working, which tasks are suffering, and which might improve.”
“We believe this international crisis needs a unified international analysis that lets us learn from one another’s experiences as they unfold and together be ready for the questions that will come thick and fast when normality returns.”
Linda Hausmanis, CEO of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management, has welcomed the initiative and its potential to introduce valuable new data to inform future policy when social distancing policy has been relaxed.
“These are unprecedented times and every aspect of our lives has been affected significantly, including work. As organisations adjust, it is crucial that we learn lessons that help us be more effective today and make us more resilient in the future so we can learn collectively from this experience. Workplace and facilities managers are being tested in ways unimaginable only weeks ago. We look forward to seeing the outputs of Leesman’s work and supporting the effort to develop best practice from it.”