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12 Ways Working from Home Has Transformed Britain, from Preventing Burglary to Causing Weight Gain
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12 Ways Working from Home Has Transformed Britain, from Preventing Burglary to Causing Weight Gain

Has the new normal been achieved? This was a lingering question throughout the pandemic, as individuals struggled with constantly evolving regulations and emerging recommendations regarding Covid.

After a majority of limitations were lifted, Britain has achieved a harmonious blend of Working From Home and Returning To Office. The Office for National Statistics reports that nearly half of employees now WFH to some extent, and this trend is expected to continue as WFH Research has observed a consistent 15%-20% of job advertisements mentioning remote work in the past two years, a significant increase from 3% in 2019.

The significant change in work patterns has impacted employees, companies, and the overall society. Researchers globally have devoted their attention to this topic and their findings were analyzed in a comprehensive study. Charlotte Hall from the UK Health Security Agency and Professor Neil Greenberg and his team at King’s College London reviewed almost 2,000 papers on this subject. While some outcomes were expected, others were surprising.

1 Presenteeism

Telecommuting is a widely accepted practice as it allows employees the freedom to handle various responsibilities, such as childcare and receiving deliveries. According to the Hall review, those who work from home tend to have a greater sense of productivity and satisfaction with their job. However, this positivity can potentially lead to unhealthy habits, as remote workers may be less inclined to take breaks or take time off when they are sick.

While some managers may see this as a positive outcome, Greenberg cautions against such thinking: “Working while not operating at your best can lead to mistakes, especially in roles that involve safety.” In fact, presenteeism resulted in a loss of up to £29 billion for UK employers in 2020, according to Deloitte. As Greenberg points out, when an employee’s mind is not fully focused on their work, it can have serious consequences.

2 Families

Working from home can be a solution for individuals who struggle with balancing the expectations of their boss and the needs of their family. This conflict has often been resolved by one partner sacrificing their career, also referred to as the parenthood penalty.

A study conducted by Emma Harrington at Virginia University revealed that working from home has improved the situation for women in the US. The study showed that a 10% increase in remote work resulted in a 1% increase in the employment rate of mothers.

A research conducted in Japan, where men typically have not been heavily involved in household tasks or child-rearing, revealed that working from home resulted in men dedicating more time to domestic responsibilities. Chihiro Inoue from Tokyo University discovered that a single day of remote work led to a 5.6% increase in family time.

Nevertheless, Hall’s analysis uncovered contradictory findings and certain research indicated that the conflict between work and family responsibilities, such as scheduling conflicts, posed a drawback to working from home.

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3 Health and wellbeing

One of the benefits of working from home is having control over one’s personal space and food choices. According to the Hall review, individuals tend to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and home-cooked meals while working from home. This trend is especially prominent among younger employees and women. However, there is a downside to this freedom – the risk of increased snacking, smoking, and alcohol consumption. A study showed that 46.9% of people who transitioned to working from home also gained weight.

According to Greenberg, working from home has personal benefits, such as the ability to care for one’s children. However, it’s important to acknowledge that it can also lead to negative effects like weight gain, excessive drinking, and feelings of isolation. Therefore, it’s necessary to make conscious efforts to change behaviors.

4 Clothes and decor

Some people may not choose to purchase an underdesk treadmill and complete 10,000 steps each day while on mute to combat these risks, but others have. An alternative, simpler option is to change one’s wardrobe. According to Francesca Smith, a senior research analyst at Mintel, loungewear and sportswear have become popular choices for everyday attire and even workwear for many individuals. This trend is due to the desire for functional, comfortable, and stylish clothing that can be worn during video calls, running errands, and even lunchtime workouts on days when working from home.

Helen Collins, a market researcher at GfK, reports that the trend of working from home has led to an increase in purchases of paint, homeware, and bedroom furniture. Additionally, air fryers have been selling well, with Collins attributing this success to both the lockdown-induced need to cook at home and the desire to conserve energy.

According to her, sales of headphones and headsets have been consistently increasing, despite the market being “saturated”.

5 Conspicuous consumption

The richest home workers – those with the lion’s share of the £190bn that households saved during the lockdowns – have developed luxurious tastes. “We’ve seen lots of the luxury brands that maybe didn’t have a big presence in soft furnishings now doing homeware,” says Fflur Roberts at Euromonitor. “So people can literally dress their home head to toe in Dior or Gucci. Harrods has a whole section now.”

This trend is evident in various household products as well. Diptyque, renowned for its expensive candles priced at £100, has expanded its offerings to include a lavender-scented cleaner for multiple surfaces and an orange-blossom washing-up liquid.

6 Personal care

Some individuals have not spent a lot of money; some do not understand the purpose of getting dressed up just to stay at home. According to Mintel’s data, there is a decrease in interest for makeup, perfume, and even deodorant. Smith states, “Research shows that 88% of adults who work outside of their home use deodorant or antiperspirant daily, while only 81% of those who work from home do the same.”

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7 Commuting

According to data from Transport for London (TfL), individuals who work both remotely and in-person in London typically choose Mondays and Fridays as their days to work from home (WFH). On Monday, February 5, there were approximately 700,000 less trips taken on the tube compared to the busiest day of the week, Thursday, February 8. In general, the number of journeys taken on the London Underground is approximately 20% lower than it was in 2019.

The middle of the week, specifically Wednesdays and Thursdays, tend to be the busiest days when it comes to being in the office with colleagues and friends. According to Ben Etheridge, a senior economics lecturer at the University of Essex, there is a balance between having a long commute and being able to socialize with others in the city center. If no one else is present in the city, commuting becomes pointless.

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8 Cities and offices

Despite the high demand for hybrid work arrangements, numerous CEOs predict that their employees will return to a full five-day work schedule in the coming years. In the meantime, company leaders are cutting costs by opting for smaller, updated, and eco-friendly office spaces. This trend has led to many older buildings becoming obsolete, prompting UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove to propose allowing commercial properties to be converted into residential units without the need for planning permission.

Office refurbishment is experiencing a significant increase. According to Deloitte’s surveys of major cities, London is currently seeing record high levels of refurbishment activity, with 306,000 square meters of space being renovated. In Manchester, refurbishments have surpassed the construction of new office spaces for the first time. Deloitte partner Philip Parnell explains, “There are multiple reasons for this shift towards refurbishments, but one factor is the growing demand from occupants for more attractive office spaces that cater to their current and future employees. There is a recognition that employees now expect better amenities in order to justify their commute.”

According to Parnell, premium London offices should include rooftop gardens with beehives, upgraded canteens, gyms, bike parking, and changing rooms as these are considered essential.

9 Gen Z careers

According to the Hall review, a common belief is that working from home (WFH) hinders advancement in one’s career. Recruiters have observed that company leaders view younger employees in their workforce as lacking interpersonal skills and the benefits of learning from coworkers.

Bobby Duffy, a professor and director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, disagrees with this viewpoint. He believes that individuals in their 50s think that younger generations will not have the same opportunities for personal growth and development because they were able to learn through observation. However, young people in London are more self-assured in their skills and abilities, not just in their job performance but also in tasks associated with personal growth.

Duffy and his team discovered that 40% of individuals aged 16 to 24 believed that they were more comfortable taking on significant tasks while working remotely.

“They are more at ease with the technology,” Duffy stated. “There is also a sense of equal opportunity in using Zoom or Teams for communication – the hierarchy is not as obvious, and when one raises their hand, they are less likely to be ignored. In a physical setting, people can establish dominance through body language, but this is more challenging in a virtual environment.”

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10 Crime fighting

One positive result of working from home is a decrease in the risk of home invasion. According to a study by Sheffield University, for every 9.5% increase in remote work, there is a 4% decrease in burglaries.

Professor Jesse Matheson and his team analyzed data on crimes committed on the street and cross-referenced it with the number of individuals working remotely. They discovered that there was a 30% decrease in burglaries as a result of burglars avoiding homes that were occupied and the increased presence of individuals at home, acting as a deterrent.

11 The high street

Matheson discovered that remote work resulted in increased economic activity in suburban areas, resulting in the emergence of midweek manicures and sneaky afternoon golf games.

Claire Aggarwal, an advisory member of the British Beauty Council, notes that there has been an increase in midweek manicures due to the more flexible work schedules during the Covid pandemic.

The Revenue Club, a group of sports analysts, found that golfers have changed their preferred playing times. In the past, there was no distinction between the number of players starting in the morning or afternoon. However, in 2020, there was a significant increase in afternoon tee-offs, making up over 60% of total tee-offs and remaining higher than morning tee-offs.

12 Environment

According to Cornell University, individuals who work full-time from their homes have a 54% smaller carbon footprint compared to those who work in offices in the US. However, the difference is not as significant for hybrid workers. This can be attributed to the fact that remote workers do not commute, but also because offices consume a considerable amount of energy. This is evident in TfL’s commuting data, which shows a slight increase during cold weather as people opt to stay home and avoid using energy to heat their workplace.

Source: theguardian.com