Is There a Dark Side to WFH? Achieving the Right Work/Life Blend |

The market thinks: 

The shift to flexible working has worked wonders for productivity, happiness and employee wellbeing.  

Thomas knows: 

It’s certainly had a positive impact on many people. But you also need to watch out for its downsides. 

Until recently, flexible and remote working seemed to be the preserve of creative agencies, tech start-ups and the like. However, with the arrival of COVID-19, many businesses have been forced to accelerate what was once on the horizon – namely, the shift to WFH for everyone. 

As such, the world of work is now – perhaps irrevocably – blended with the world of home. We’ve all been forced to break down the barriers and stigma surrounding flexible working. And we’ve all seen more of each other’s cats and children than we ever thought we would. 

Are people really happier at home? 

Even before the onset of the pandemic, a lot of research existed around the benefits of WFH on  productivity and wellbeing. However, at Thomas we believe that things aren’t so cut-and-dried. And that, as a business, you also need to watch out for the dark side of WFH – the aspects that might be putting undue pressure on your people as they strive for normality from their sofas.

We’ve identified three areas to consider: 

1. The challenge of always-on 

The lines between work and relaxation have blurred. Meaning that people are more likely to feel required to answer emails at night and work longer hours. France was ahead of the curve in combating this issue. Employees have recently been granted the ‘right to disconnect' between certain hours [1].

2. The pressure of remote presenteeism  

Whether it’s feeling the need to respond to Teams messages even when your status is set to ‘busy’. Or wondering whether people will think you’re secretly watching TV if you don’t respond to an email straight away. The pressure of remote presenteeism is manifesting itself in a number of ways. Perhaps we’re forgetting that people are entitled to take breaks? 

3. The myth of quantity not quality 

We’re big believers in the notion that quality of work is more important than the hours put in to achieve it. And we know that many other businesses feel the same way. Now we’ve all had a chance to shake off our ingrained, counter-productive beliefs – we should try to avoid falling back into bad habits. 

Of course, everybody’s different. Some people love working from home. Some hate it. Some have struggled with the change but, with a few alterations, could enjoy it.  

With our assessments, you can learn about your people’s traits, and then make sure their managers are supporting them effectively. For instance, managers should aim to make highly social people feel more connected, and ensure that detail-orientated people have enough structure in their day. 

A quick note on challenging circumstances 

While we can help you tailor support for the majority of your workforce, some people will also be affected in other ways. For instance, they might not have all the space, childcare or equipment they need. To help everyone achieve the right work/life blend, you should combine psychometric insights with personalised support plans. 

Top takeaways

  • To make WFH work for your organisation, you need trust that people will do their jobs to their own schedule. And provide clarity around what’s expected.  
  • With our assessments, you can find out who needs what kind of support. Because, in this new world of work, it’s certainly not a case of one-size-fits-all. 

Want to know more about building and maintaining a high-performing and engaged team? Download our manifesto for more advice.