Employees working from home 4 times more likely to have improved work/life balance since Covid began according to new research from Aviva
Though 1 in 5 (21%) have not taken any annual leave as there was nowhere to go or nothing to do
Many employees struggle to be compliant with workplace occupational health hazards
Almost half of employees working remotely (47%) admit that they have a better work/life balance since the outbreak of the pandemic, with 36% claiming there is no change and 17% admitting that it is worse. This is in sharp contrast to those who are not working from home, with three quarters (75%) claiming that their work/life balance is the same, with only 10% claiming that it is better. However, a worrying percentage of employees working from home struggle to be compliant with workplace occupational health hazards. These are the principal findings from recently conducted research by Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland DAC (Aviva) who sought to gain insights into the impact of the pandemic on the working population.
The survey conducted by iReach Insights of 1,000 people nationwide on behalf of Aviva included almost 50% of those working from home. The research findings also revealed that 17% of those working from home claimed they have a worse work/life balance, with only 15% of those not working remotely expressing the same. However, more than 1 in 3 of those surveyed working from home admitted their work/life balance was the same.
More than 1 in 3 (38%) people working from home confirmed that their employer had provided them with all the necessary equipment to ensure compliance with workplace occupational health standards, with a further 30% providing all the equipment themselves. However, over 30% admitted that their work set-up is not compliant, some of whom had some but not all the necessary equipment. Some 3% of this group claimed they were offered the set-up equipment but simply did not have the space to accommodate it.
Taking breaks and regular exercise
Responding to what extent people working remotely took regular breaks and exercise during the working day, more than half (55%) said that they do take regular breaks and some physical exercise, whilst a quarter claimed that, while they do take regular breaks, they don’t take any exercise. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 (20%) admitted that they never have time to take breaks. Men are marginally more likely than women (56% vs 54%) to take regular breaks and physical activity during the working day. More people aged 25-44, while taking regular breaks, did not take any exercise.
Taking time off
The research further probed whether people had continued to take their annual leave entitlement during the pandemic to give themselves a break from work. Almost half (47%) claimed that they have taken their annual leave as normal, with an additional 17% admitting that they took their annual leave as their employer would not allow them carry over their entitlement. Some 15% said that they had taken less annual leave because of the pandemic and more than 1 in 5 (21%) said they had not taken any annual leave as there was nowhere to go or nothing to do. Women have taken less annual leave than men because of the pandemic (16.68% vs 14%), with more men than women (23% vs 19%) admitting to not taking annual leave as there was nowhere to go and nothing to do.
It is great to see how quickly people have adapted to remote working as the pandemic forced most of us out of our offices and to understand the enormous benefit that it has had on our work/life balance. This augurs well as the country moves closer to a return to normality, with businesses set to begin returning to their offices, and with many looking to implement a new hybrid or smart working model.Siocha Costello, Aviva
“The research findings have highlighted some very real concerns amongst the high percentage of people who are not compliant with workplace operational health standards, either because of not receiving some or all of the necessary equipment or because they don’t have the space to accommodate safe work practices. This combined with a significant 45% of those surveyed that don’t take any exercise during the working day could have serious long-term consequences for peoples’ health. In 2020, we paid out €45 million to 2,000 customers who had income protection policies, with 24% of those claimants having experienced orthopaedic issues that prevented them working for an extended period.
“Similarly, it is important to take regular breaks during the working day and to include some form of exercise even if it means just going for a short walk. Taking exercise during the day brings lots of positive benefits including increased energy, productivity and creativity while reducing stress. The negative impact of the pandemic on peoples’ mental health has been widely acknowledged and this was evidenced in our income protection claims last year when psychological issues surpassed orthopaedic issues for the first time as the number one reasons for the claims”, concluded Siocha Costello.