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This article was published on June 7, 2023

The case for letting workers live in the WFH la-la land

Singing in sweatpants


The case for letting workers live in the WFH la-la land

Work can be pretty stressful these days: globally tech workers have had to deal with the effects of the pandemic, adjust to remote work—and handle all those more recent return-to-office mandates—in addition to dealing with fears of redundancy in an environment that has seen hundreds of thousands of sector layoffs since mid-2022.

It’s not surprising that workers are feeling the strain. Forty-four percent of European workers reported that their work stress had increased as a result of the pandemic, according to an EU-OSHA workers’ survey.

Burnout is rife, with a 2021 study finding that 66% of Polish workers and 59% of workers in Czechia experienced, or were close to burnout. Workplace trends such as quiet quitting, rust-out, and compassion fatigue are all symptoms of the same thing: employees are overworked, under-recognised, and fed up.

Your resilience depends on your age and expertise level too. Cigna 360’s Global Well-Being Survey found that 98% of young adults aged 18 to 24 (aka Gen-Z) are experiencing worker burnout globally.

What doesn’t help workers’ stress or exhaustion levels are the sweeping decrees from tech billionaires, such as Elon Musk. You could argue that by their very nature, billionaires are removed from the concerns of the average worker anyway, but Musk takes things further.

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As the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and the former CEO of Twitter, he is hardline when it comes to how and where his employees should do their jobs. He recently told CNBC that “It’s not just a productivity thing, I think it’s morally wrong,” in reference to how service workers have no choice but to show up, while Silicon Valley engineers are the work-from-home “laptop classes living in la-la land.”

Musk also said he’s a big believer that people are more productive in person, saying that “People should get off their goddamn moral high horse with the work-from-home bullshit.”

Some are on Elon Musk’s side, with a Forbes survey revealing that 45% of 65 surveyed billionaires don’t believe in work-from-home culture either. But for many workers, his comments feel out of touch, and his declaration that he works seven days a week, and only takes “two or three” days off a year is even more alienating.

The future of work is shifting fast

European and global workers have experienced a sea change in the way they work over the past few years.

Workers want a remote or hybrid model as it eliminates commute time (and cost), can be a much more effective way to do deep work, and it also fosters a culture of flexibility, where a set schedule doesn’t matter as long as the work gets done—which is particularly attractive for working parents.

The rise of four-day working weeks is another aspect of change. Successfully trialled in the UK by non-profit 4 Day Week Global, the initial results found that 91% of participating companies will definitely continue or plan to continue with the format.

As return to the office mandates begin to make an impact, nearly a third of Eurozone workers want to work from home more frequently than their employer allows them to, according to a recent European Central Bank study.

The study found that workers who commute more than one hour each way want 10 work-from-home days each month. Those with a commute time of less than 15 minutes want six days at home a month.

Employees will vote with their feet if necessary. “Workers are more willing to change jobs if they have remote work preferences that exceed those they perceive their employers to have,” the study’s authors say.

Offering flexibility in the form of working styles is now considered to be an employee benefit, and it’s one that positively contributes to employee happiness, which increases as much as 20% by having the ability to work 100% remotely.

Work-life balance goes beyond what benefits employees. It’s good for business too, with companies offering fully remote jobs now able to utilise a much larger, global talent pool to boost their success. In addition, a survey conducted by Airtasker found that remote employees get more done, working 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year, than those in the office.

For workers though (beyond mere happiness), the biggest benefits of achieving an optimum work setup, whether that is remote, hybrid, or fully flexible, is that it can help reduce chronic stress, prevent burnout, and as a result help to mitigate physical and mental symptoms such as anxiety, hypertension, digestive troubles, and heart problems. A true win-win.

For thousands of roles across the European tech sector, check out the House of Talent Job Board today.

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