It is challenging to make decisions on the role of home working in the future, if we don’t know how people are currently experiencing it. Unless, of course, employee experience is thrown out the window and the only aim is cost-cutting, which inevitably means undoing years of work and bringing us back to where we started; the office is merely a roof over our heads and nothing else. In this case it’s a simple equation: a larger proportion of employees working from home in the future means less space, which means less costs. A false economy though, because that may have a detrimental effect on employee engagement, wellbeing and productivity.
If, instead, the aim is to take the opportunity to reassess the role of home working, and possibly introduce a new balance between working in the office and at home (both short-term as restrictions are relaxed and long-term as a part of the overall workplace strategy) with the intent to increase employee experience, it’s a completely different ball game. Because in order to maximize the overall experience, you first need to quantify it. You also need to understand the things that impact on experience, e.g. employees’ needs, preferences, behaviours and expectations. And you need to understand how a long period of working from home may have changed all of the above.
Because, let’s face it, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Working from home may very well have changed what employees expect from the office. And it will certainly have given them plenty of time to test their home environments and decide what’s good and what’s not.
But what will the data say? Is home working, working? What are the possible stress points? What’s working better than in the office and what’s not? And for whom?
At the time of writing, we’re not far from being able to share our first insights on how people really are experiencing home working, based on our standardised home working experience assessment. In the meantime, though, there’s other data that we can take a closer look at, to get some perspective. Because data on employee workplace experience from before COVID-19 can actually tell us quite a bit about how ready employees and organisations have been for home working, and what they may be expecting going forward.