Skip to content

Archive

Tag: work life

You’d only have to go back a decade or so to hear people clamouring to have more control over where they worked. Working from home was seen as the ideal way to achieve work-life balance. Now that we’ve got it, however, we still can find things are out of whack and many of us are not happy about it.

Such has been the extent of the revolution in the way we work that a new survey from Orange and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has reported that as many as 71 per cent of us now spend a significant proportion of our time working alone, away from the office or outside work hours. 18 per cent of people now work alone for more than half of their normal working day.

This may have its advantages but it isn’t always easy. Just under a half of those identified as lone workers were uncomfortable about it although only 45 per cent of those had taken any steps to deal with their feelings.

Now obviously when a telecoms company produces a survey like this, there is usually a commercial angle to it and this one is no exception. Orange has produced guidance and a pack to help lone workers. But there is a valid point behind the survey.

Firstly employers should remember their duties to staff wherever they are. The Health and Safety at Work Act applies just as much for homeworkers as it does anybody else. Beyond the legislation, we should all remember those that are out of sight and put mechanisms in place to help them deal with any feelings of isolation they may have. We should always remember to communicate with each other, both formally and informally.

And, of course, we should always remember the role the office can play in supporting everybody who works for the business. It may not be the place they go to work in as they once did, but they still need to see it as the focal point of the business. Isolation may be good sometimes, but it’s not always splendid.

 

If you need any more evidence for our changing attitudes to work, it came in a May survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which found that flexible working is the most highly valued benefit for employees, way ahead of pay and bonuses. Flexible working arrangements were rated the most important benefit by 47 per cent of those surveyed, above performance related bonuses, which came second (19 per cent).

Crucially there wasn’t really much difference between the sexes in the survey, and better work life balance was seen as a more achievable goal in the long term than higher pay. Nor is this a straightforwardly generational issue because it is amongst the much discussed Gen Y bracket where you’ll find a majority who picture their future workplace as a city centre office. 

This is clearly a complex issue informed by complex motivations and expectations. Maybe it is a sign of the times, as people look for certainty in their inner life rather than the external economy. With a new government looking to extend the rights to flexible working, this subject will continue to inform the way we design and manage workplaces for many years to come.