By Lauren Evans
Homeworking will be one of the major lasting outcomes of the pandemic, Cardiff University Professor Alan Felstead predicts. He was commissioned by the Senedd to produce a report on their inquiry into remote working.
In Wales, the number of employees working exclusively at home rose from 56,000 people before the pandemic to 485,000 in April.
Professor Felstead’s analysis of the Understanding Society Covid-19 Study shows 88% of homeworkers in June 2020 reported they’d like to continue working remotely in some capacity. The number rose to 93% by September 2020.
The Professor said: “Even when social restrictions are fully lifted, it is unlikely there will be a full return to the traditional office setting.”
“We will need to rethink and reimagine our notions of home and work, the nature of our towns and cities, and assess whether our transport and telecommunications infrastructure is fit for purpose.”
The report shows nearly half of homeworkers said fewer interruptions was the cause for the increase in their productivity. One homeworker, design engineer Paul Billings (pictured), said interruptions and distractions was instead the main reason he dislikes working from home.
He said: “Your environment at home is not an ideal place to be working. Distractions and technical difficulties like bad WiFi signal as well as a lack of structure is a huge drawback.”
“Working alone made me feel really lonely too. I miss being in an office and being able to talk and discuss work with my colleagues.”
The report acknowledged that while many people preferred the freedom of working at home, they were working longer hours than they used to, and were more frequently feeling drained and isolated.
The predictions of long-lasting effects of homeworking is backed by the Welsh Government’s aim for 30% of the workforce to work remotely in coming years. They hope it leads to regeneration and economic activity in communities by reducing congestion and pollution.