A woman working from home with a cat sitting on her windowsill.

10 unexpected effects of the work-from-home trend

The Covid-19 pandemic led to a huge rise in the number of people working from home. Four years on, 4 in 10 workers still work from home at least some of the time.

Whether you miss the office or are pleased to work from the comfort of your own home, no one can deny that the shift to working from home has affected people across the world. However, some of the impacts hybrid and remote working are having across the UK are stranger than others.

Read on to discover 10 unexpected effects of the work from home trend.

1. Workers are less likely to use sick days

Research published in the Guardian discovered that people who worked from home enjoy the ability to multitask by also dealing with practical matters, such as child or pet care as well as doing chores or taking deliveries. This led to a massive increase in workers feeling productive, which can be great for boosting morale.

However, this spike in positivity led to an unfortunate outcome as well, as those who work from home are less likely to take time off when they need it. Although you may think this is a good thing, it can reduce productivity in the long term and could have serious repercussions for companies if workers make mistakes while sick.

2. Saving the environment

Incredibly, the Guardian reports that researchers found that the average person working from home has a carbon footprint 54% smaller than those in offices in the US.

While much of this is down to a lack of commuting, it also revealed an often overlooked aspect of your carbon footprint. Offices require a lot of energy, which is why Transport for London often reports an increase in hybrid workers commuting on cold days as they wish to save money on their bills.

3. Improved work-life balance

Government research found that 78% of people who have worked from home some or all of the time reported a better work-life balance than those who returned to the office.

This could be due to several reasons, including the extra time recovered from not having to commute, as well as being surrounded by your loved ones in a comfortable environment.

4. Increase in burnout

On the other hand, more people are struggling to disconnect from work. The balance between working and personal time becomes blurred when you are doing everything from home, which may lead to an increase in unpaid overtime and a feeling of always having to be online to answer messages or emails.

5. A changing sense of style

While office workers previously had to dress formally to meet their coworkers, many people who work from home now opt for comfort over style.

These days, more people are seeking clothes that are stylish enough to run out on errands or speak to clients over Zoom without the discomfort of stiff suits or pinching heels.

6. Gaining weight

Working from home can even affect your diet. Although people eat more fruits and vegetables while working from home, there is also an increase in the number of people smoking, snacking, and drinking alcohol.

In fact, 47% of people have gained weight while working from home. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including a lack of exercise as those who may have previously walked or cycled to work no longer have to leave the house.

7. Increased feelings of isolation

As well as affecting you physically, working from home can also have an emotional impact.

Despite most business owners saying they would continue allowing their employees to work from home due to their work satisfaction, there are also increasing concerns about how well people cope with the isolation of not going into the office.

Some employees reported finding it harder to connect with their colleagues since they rarely meet them in person, which led to many people feeling disconnected from their organisation as a whole.

8. Battling the parenthood penalty

The conflict of trying to meet your boss and your family’s demands at once previously led to many women sacrificing their careers – either through a break or quitting entirely – to take care of children.

However, research suggests that, for women in the US, a 10% increase in people working from home led to a 1% increase in working pregnant women.

Additionally, a study in Japan discovered that where men have traditionally been less engaged in domestic work or childcare, a rise in working from home led to men spending more time on household chores.

9. A reduction in flexibility stigma

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, many people who worked from home were less likely to be promoted or offered training opportunities.

However, with the increase in the number of people choosing hybrid or remote work, this mentality has greatly reduced, leading to open opportunities for everyone.

10. Crime fighting

Perhaps the most bizarre consequence of people working from home is a reduction in robberies.

Researchers at Sheffield University discovered that a 9.5% increase in people working from home led to a 4% fall in burglaries. Thieves tend to avoid occupied homes so they don’t run into trouble, but the report also found that they avoid streets with many occupied houses as there are “more eyes on the street” and they are more likely to be caught.

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