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UK businesses face imminent worker wellbeing “rude awakening”

by jcp
Editorial & Advertiser disclosure
  • UK employees overwhelmingly sleeping better with no commute
  • Staff far more able to make time for themselves when working from home
  • Warnings that return to offices will harm worker wellbeing if not properly managed

As employees across the UK return to the workplace following a year of remote working, new research indicates the ongoing shift back to offices may significantly disrupt workers’ sleeping patterns and wider wellbeing.

The Global Working From Home Survey, commissioned by employee wellbeing specialist WRKIT, found that UK workers are overwhelmingly sleeping better due to their newfound capacity to forgo the daily commute. When asked about their sleep quantity, UK workers reported back that they now sleep longer with no commute, which for many takes more than an hour each day, scoring their sleep duration 8.6/10.

Additional questions into sleep quality and quantity reveal that UK workers are also strongly positive about their sleep quality when working from home, scoring sleep quality 7.6/10 on average, and also find it far easier to plan their nightly sleep routine (7.3/10).

Interestingly, the research suggests that UK workers’ sleeping patterns have benefited far more from the shift to working from home than their international counterparts. To this end, respondents from the UK reported feeling refreshed after sleep when working from home, scoring this affirmation at 6.5/10, compared to 4.5/10 globally.

The research also found that working from home has benefited worker wellbeing more widely, with UK workers reporting that they are now far more able to make time to focus on activities they enjoy (scoring this affirmation at 7.1/10) compared with the global reading (5/10).

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that more than a third (35%) of the UK’s workforce are still working remotely, indicating that millions of workers will need to significantly adjust their sleeping pattern and morning routine over the coming weeks as offices return. Given this, businesses must in turn either adapt to this step-change or risk worker wellbeing plummeting over the coming weeks, at a significant detriment to both morale and productivity.

Given also that sleep deprivation has been estimated to cost the UK economy approximately £37 billion in lost productivity annually, these new findings indicate a real need for companies to assess their current workplace return strategy, and consider offering hybrid working arrangements where possible.

Commenting on the findings Jason Brennan, director of leadership and wellbeing at WRKIT, said: “The sudden shift to working from home last March was intense for employees and organisations alike. Those uprooted from their workplace have been impacted uniquely and there have been profound psychological and emotional effects across the UK’s workforce.

“So many workers seeing marked improvements to their sleeping patterns has been an extremely positive legacy of the past 12 months, that businesses would do well to pay attention to if they are to keep morale – and, crucially, the wellbeing of their staff – high over the coming months.

“Where possible, businesses should consider providing the option of permanent remote working, even for two or three days a week. This will enable employees to maintain good sleep hygiene, to the mutual benefit of employer and employee, and enable forward-thinking businesses to attract and retain the top talent in their industry.”

The research, believed to be the first of its kind conducted on a global scale, surveyed more than 4,000 employees worldwide – 1,293 from the UK alone – on how the past year has impacted their wellbeing across six key pillars; sleep, work, life, food, and mental and physical wellbeing.


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