Posted By Westfield Health

Posted on9th July 2020

What started as a short-term response to a global emergency looks set to change how we work and what we expect from our employers in the long term.

After many companies having to embrace remote working almost

overnight, the coronavirus outbreak has challenged long-held assumptions about work – it’s become less and less about the place we do our work and more about the output.

Despite it being an incredibly stressful time, many people we surveyed for our Divided Together report said they’d miss the way they’ve been working and are expecting long-term changes.

Our Divided Together report asked 1500 people not just about how coronavirus and lockdown had affected them, but about how it’s changed what they’re looking for from work as we start to head towards a new normal. Want all the facts at a glance? Take a look at our employee insight factsheets.

How have employers performed

Our research showed that employers have risen to the challenge when it comes to supporting their teams throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.

Those who’ve been working from home sang their company’s praises with 89% saying they feel supported.

Even amongst those who’ve been furloughed who were the least positive about their employer, over three quarters (76%) of respondents still gave their employer a thumbs up.

One way in which people are looking for more is in terms of feeling reassured. Over a third (35%) say their employer should be doing more to reassure them, with 30% adding that they should be doing more to ensure job security.

Though employers have met the mark when it comes to responding to the coronavirus crisis, providing the right communication, reassurance and support for the next stage of returning to work will be crucial.

Lockdown’s silver lining

Though lockdown has had a huge impact on mental health with half of respondents saying it’s got worse, for some there’s also been a silver lining.

Those who’ve seen their mental health improve have relished having more free time (51%) and feeling less stress and pressure (44%).

They’ve put this free time to good use, with almost half (48%) attributing the mental health boost to getting more exercise and 44% saying it’s down to spending more time with family.

New ways of working were also a key driver of this mental health boost (30%) with over a third (34%) say that not commuting has helped their mental health.

Change is in the air

Now that people have had the experience of working more flexibly, many are expecting these changes to stick around long term (35%).

Most people (49%) expect that there’ll be more working from home with less travelling for work (39%) as companies look to increase their use of digital technology to collaborate (43%).

People are starting to think about the impact it’ll have on the physical office too. More than one in five (22%) expect less hotdesking with 36% saying they’re expecting changes to the physical working environment.

Top of employees’ wish lists

Having tried different ways of working and with more time to reflect, many people have been thinking about what they’ll prioritise when looking for their next role.

Work-life balance tops the list of things people will be looking for with 27% saying they’ll make that a priority. Picking a role that’s closer to home to cut the commute time was also important to one in five respondents.

For a minority (15%), the coronavirus outbreak has got them thinking about trying different types of work.

Supportive employers

One of the ways to ease the transition back to this new normal is to provide teams with the right support, and employees are increasingly looking to their companies for a helping hand.

Beyond the increased expectation on employers to safeguard their team’s health (39%), 28% of respondents are looking for more help when it comes to their wellbeing.

This includes support with mental health (29%), physical health (23%) and even financial management education or support (17%).

Recognising that employees’ priorities and expectations may have changed as a result of Covid-19 and continuing to gather insights from your team and adjust plans accordingly will be key to keeping employees engaged and getting back to productivity.

Take a look at our articles on what HR teams should be thinking about when it comes to returning to work and transitioning back to the workplace for more ideas on returning to work.

For more insight about how teams have been affected by coronavirus, take a look at the Divided Together report or download our employee insight factsheets.

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