How has Covid-19 impacted the Employee Experience?
Average Home Working H-Lmi Score
H-Lmi 0-100 Rating on Employee Home Working Experience
Benchmark 70+ = High Performing Workplace. Data 15.09.2020
Rapidly deployed working from home protocols have created a dynamic shift in what we perceive to be critical in the workplace. As the world’s largest benchmark repository of employee workplace experience data, Leesman have launched a campaign to identify the “scale of opportunity and risk” in working from home. Gaining a better understanding of this data can support difficult decisions being made by businesses in virtual boardrooms across Australia and the world.
The Value of Data
Business resilience considers both people and infrastructure. We cannot predict the future, but taking stock with a measured approach can help integrate phases of recovery for short- and long-term impact.
The Leesman Index builds on data gathered from previous surveys, engaging over 126,000 employees across 873 workplaces. This allows us to uniquely compare corporate workplaces with the newly distributed places of work, with Global data from over 83 countries providing a pulse check on the future of work. The index shows us the highest scoring workplace surveyed has a H-Lmi 82.5 in contrast to the lowest performing H-Lmi 52. Identifying the reasons for this 30-point gap helps businesses to understand where they should place their focus: Improving the Home or Office workplace experience. The most recent survey also tries to capture less tangible data, such as work profiles, considering complexity of tasks and participants previous experience of what they are “used to”. This is not necessarily a reflection of senior roles having more complex tasks, but emphasises that staff who regularly engage in all 21 tasks are likely to require a more dynamic selection of resources compared to those who engage in a smaller number of tasks. Note that breakdown by industry or sector does not form part of the survey.
Global distribution shows little impact on Lmi scores, the difference appears to lie within the individual organisation. While roles have not changed in this shift to working from home, they have had to adapt. The average office surveyed by Leesman pre Covid-19 scored Lmi 63, 11 points lower than the working from home H-Lmi score of 74, which suggests working from home may be the new benchmark for office design.
Throughout the pandemic we have seen a shifted focus to wellbeing in the workplace. Wellbeing relates to a number of physical and emotional elements that consider our senses, physical activity and human interaction within the built environment. Leesman have looked at how working from home has affected physical activity, connectedness and work-life balance and have found that these areas score lower than questions about productivity and focus.
A closer look at the "Average Home Working" (H-Lmi) breakdown shows working from home is not for everyone. In fact 1 in 5 people have had a poor experience.
Proportion of people who agreed with statements below:
I’m able to be physically active 72%
I feel connected to my organisation 72%
I am able to maintain a healthy work-life balance 71.1%
I am able to take time to Relax & feel I can take a break 78.8%
I can engage in Informal social 62.1%
I feel connected to my colleagues 66.6%
I am satisfied with my Desk / Table 63.6%
I am satisfied with my Chair 53.7%
91% of Employees surveyed agreed "Individual Focused Work" is the most Important factor of both Home & Office contexts.
To compare workplace activities, Leesman have broken down the survey to identify what activities are important and how well the workplace supports them. The results show clear strengths in some aspects of working from home, for activities such as individual tasks and planned meetings with satisfaction scores above 87%. Some of the least supported activities show differences in satisfaction varying by up to 40% for more social activities, such as learning from others, informal social interaction and collaboration.
Demographics & Work Context
The breakdown of satisfaction by generation highlighted some interesting results. On average, all groups gave working from home a higher H-Lmi score, however, looking at a generational breakdown, it appears that those aged 35 and under scored the office more favourably than their older colleagues. As a generation who are looking for career development opportunities, inhouse interaction provides invaluable opportunities to learn from and observe their colleagues in a way that is not achievable when working remotely.
The home work setting also plays a significant role in the satisfaction of working from home. On average 40% of people surveyed had a dedicated home office, the H-Lmi for this group of people was 79.1. Other defined work spaces were A dedicated work area (but not a separate room) 31% (H-Lmi 75.0) and non-specific home location areas (e.g sofa or kitchen table) 29% (H-Lmi 67.1). This shows that the setting in which you are working from home impacts your experience. Looking further into this data we find 50% of the over 55 age group have a dedicated home office, which is perhaps an influential factor for their remote working preference.
Are there differences between organisations?
The starting point of this roll out has been drastically different between organisations. The survey showed that organisations that had already attained Leesman+ plus accreditation pre-Covid-19 outperformed other organisations by 20%. Perhaps this is indicative that business investing in their employee experience have not done so in vain.
Do we need to re design the office?
There has been much discussion around the reinvention of the corporate workplace, with ideas such as the office as a collaborative centre, or a hub and-spoke model with suburban satellite offices. This may form part of a long-term business strategy, but where do we start?
Critical considerations are required to make our workplaces more valuable to employees and support productivity. There is a need to focus on infrastructure, getting the technology right, to maintain connection as a top priority. Designing environments that embrace this dynamic shift towards connection, health and quality of space will enhance the quality of interactions between people, supporting positive employee experience and productivity in the office, wherever that may be.
The "Most Supported Activities" had the smallest gap in results:
Access to information
Feeling productive at home
Individual focused work
Audio / video conferences
Least Supported Activities has much larger gaps in satisfaction between organisations:
Informal unplanned meetings
Informal social interaction
Feeling connected to team & organisation
Collaborating on creative work
The office must evolve to create a more elevated experience of work & actively increase productivity.
Thoughts on the future
Overall, staff seem happy with the transition to working from home, but it is certainly not suited to everyone. Leesman recommend that organisations take time to investigate on a case by case basis to fully understand the impact on individuals, as there is no "one size fits all" solution.
With new found trust being granted to employees, it is unlikely that it can be easily taken back. For the employees returning to the workplace, we need to improve the existing experience: 37% of people have reported a great home and home working experience, 25% have found both areas falling short. If choice is the new normal, employees in limbo will be looking for compelling reasons or benefits to choose one over the other. Design and technology must work together to mitigate hygiene, space and journey transition requirements. Acoustic conditions that currently inhibit focused work will need to be investigated as we accommodate a boom in digital connection.
How can design help us face these challenges? Work points may no longer be fixed, businesses may move to rotation systems that required shared seating such as Agile or Activity Based Working. These solutions are still to be tested and verified for effectiveness within the context of post Covid-19 environments. A culture of open discussion and information sharing will help us to continue to understand more about the challenges in social interaction, social connection and ergonomics. Evaluating real-estate and scaling to fit the changing workplace will be critical for organisations to consider as part of a business resilience strategy.
Data taken from Leesman Home Working 125k Briefing Webinar 15th September 2020.
To learn more about employee surveys and ongoing research visit Leesmanindex.com.