EU workers not ready for home working, says Targus research
New research from California-based Targus highlights how European office workers are not prepared to adopt the new ‘work from anywhere’ model being rolled out as businesses return to work.
The survey of 4,000 office workers in France, Germany and the UK from February shows people are willing to set foot in offices again but expect greater flexibility and trust to work from other locations.
Reduced days working in the office was an employee expectation in all countries; with just under a half of UK respondents ranking this as their main expectation. However, employers are not equipping staff with the necessary tools to work productively and healthily.
A quarter of UK office workers were not supplied with or given a budget to purchase equipment needed to work from home by their employer, according to the survey, with the figure even higher in Germany (29%) and France (35%).
“We all know how important it is to have the correct desk set up and proper equipment when we are in the office so it’s surprising to see employers are not providing the same level of support to staff working remotely – even a year into the Covid-19 lockdown and social restrictions,” says Marcus Harvey, Director of B2B EMEA, Targus.
“This isn’t a short-term situation and employees expect to continue to be flexible with their working location. Standard items such as a wireless keyboard or laptop stand to position the screen at the correct level can make a significant impact to productivity and wellbeing. We might even get to a point where this type of support becomes a dealbreaker in job negotiations.”
The new work-from-home business as usual
The working from home experience has differed across Europe. German workers are the keenest to get back to the office (62%), versus 45% in the UK, while 59% in France are reluctant to go back. The survey shows women (44%) want to return more than men (39%).
Returning to the office comes conditions and expectations:
Top 3 things people expect to have changed about the office when they return
- Improved cleaning protocols
- Improved Covid-19 security
- Increased levels of trust to work away from the office
3 changes office workers expect to see to improve productivity
- Ultra-quiet desk areas for solo work (40% UK, 45% France, 47% Germany)
- More meeting rooms with better AV equipment (34% UK, 26% France, 24% Germany)
- More social spaces (34% UK, 29% France, 27% Germany)
However, employers do not seem to be consulting their teams on the process of returning to the office. Over 40% of workers across all three countries had not had a discussion with bosses.
5 Ways Leaders Can Create a Healthy Workplace Culture
This week (14th-20th June 2021) is Men’s Health Week. Physical and mental well-being have been important considerations for leaders over the past year, and it is essential this focus is maintained as we build back for the future. Here we have asked 5 experts for practical tips leaders can implement to create healthy workplace cultures.
Know the early signs of burnout
Recently it was reported by the BBC that burnout for health and social care staff had reached emergency levels.
Monkey Puzzle Training Co-Founder Karen Meager has studied the burnout recovery process in partnership with Coventry University: “The past year has seen people suffer from job-loss worries, work from home challenges, isolation, and feeling overworked. These are continuing, and all have the potential to contribute towards burnout. Healthcare workers, executives, leaders, managers and small business owners will continue to be the top people to suffer from extreme burnout.”
“At the onset of burnout, people commonly enter a phase of denial. So leaders need to be aware of those who are reluctant to take their time off, are compelled to work all hours, or have changes in their behaviour or mood, as these can all be indications of burnout taking hold. Encouraging them to take a burnout self-test provides a starting point to supporting these employees through recovery, as is role modelling healthy sustainable ways of working.” Karen suggests.
Encourage professional self-reflection
Creating an environment that encourages self-reflection is an effective tool for promoting personal development. Journaling may not be something you instantly think of for professional development; however, it is a successful technique for adults to aid mindfulness and productivity. “Journaling is a form of self-expression that can empower you to understand your feelings and ambitions and how to deal with them, therefore promoting positive well-being and a healthy workplace culture,” describes Elisa Nardi, founder of Notebook Mentor.
“Just 15-20 minutes of journaling a day over the course of four months are enough to lessen the impact of physical stressors on your health,” explains Elisa. “It can also inspire creativity, aid your memory, and help set actionable goals. It is an underused tool that can help employees manage tricky workplace situations such as conflict, illness or new leadership roles.”
Manage your stress and resilience too
As a leader or manager, often, your complete focus is on the business or protecting your team, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. Leaders should also have strategies in place to manage their own stress, so they can sustain high levels of positive energy throughout the day. “Fueled by a burning desire for success, I ignored all the warning signs of exhaustion, which eventually took its toll on me - I literally collapsed from stress, and I didn’t even see it coming.” reflects Sascha Heinemann, an expert in Performance Recovery and Stress Resilience.
“When leaders manage their energy, create healthy daily habits, and practice resilience, they are able to perform to their fullest capacity and to provide the best possible support for others.”
“Taking a break every 90 minutes or so helps you to refuel, recharge, and re-energize and ultimately allows you to get more accomplished, in less time, at a higher level of quality, and more sustainably. This role model contributes dramatically to a healthier, more engaged, sustainable, and productive workplace culture," he adds.
Instil a sense of purpose for your team
The idea that success equals working 12-15 hour days and giving everything of yourself to your workplace continues to prevail in many organisations. This is not healthy, nor is it productive for anyone involved. “The healthiest and happiest workplace cultures are the ones that are organised around purpose.” describes business and life coach Anand Kulkarni.
“Leaders should be giving meaning to the work they are doing within their business and beyond and sharing this purpose with their staff, rather than focusing on long hours, crippling workloads or someone else’s idea of ‘success’. When people understand why they are doing what they do and how this contributes to something greater, productivity and well-being is increased.” adds Anand.
Promote well-being from the top down
Leaders need to act as role models if well-being is to become embedded at the very core of the organisation. It’s very unlikely that employees will start acting in a new way that puts their own needs first if the leadership team continues to behave in an entirely different manner.
‘Many organisations have worked hard in recent months to put new policies in place that better support well-being, promote hybrid working and attempt to set clear boundaries, but many leaders seem to assume that they are exempt from it all, that’s when it all falls over’, explains leadership experts Martin Boroson and Carmel Moore, from The One Moment Company.
A recent ONS report into Homeworking in the UK revealed that people are on average working 6 hours extra per week, and many are working until late in the evening, indicating that the boundaries between work and life are more blurred than ever.
“Despite all of these wonderful opportunities for people to self-organise, if the leadership team continues to work in the office Monday to Friday, or are communicating at all hours, then it’s a clear indicator that hybrid working is simply a ‘bolt-on’ tactic rather than an integral part of the company’s approach to promoting the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.’