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72% of European employees think remote working offers benefits for work-life balance

Nowadays, a poor work-life balance is one of the main reasons why employees leave an organisation
72% of European employees think remote working offers benefits for work-life balance

72% of European employees believe remote working offers a better work-life balance. At present, 27% of European employees do so on a regular basis. That's equal to 3.1 days a week on average. 16% of employees worked remotely prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which at the time meant an average of 2.6 days a week remote working. These are the results of a European survey of 4,371 companies carried out by the leading European HR and payroll service provider SD Worx.

For just over seven out of ten employees, remote working allows a better work-life balance. French (80%), German (80%) and Belgian (79%) employees, in particular, agree with this. It's now high time to focus on the latest insights, trends and challenges surrounding remote working. A good work-life balance is not only regarded as the most important benefit of remote working, it's also one of the main reasons why employees stay with their employer.

    A majority believe remote working contributes to greater productivity

    66% of employees believe that remote working offers more benefits than disadvantages. Strong supporters in this regard are Finnish (74%), German (73%) and British (72%) employees, in particular.

    Furthermore, most European employees (61%) believe that remote working contributes to higher individual productivity. French employees lead the way here (69%), followed by Belgian (66%) and German (64%) employees. Just over half of European employees (52%) indicated that remote working also contributes to higher productivity when working with others. For British (60%), Belgian (60%) and French (58%) employees, in particular, teleworking need not be an obstacle to a team's productivity.

    Of course, working remotely still presents a few challenges. 63% indicated that they are less inclined to report in sick when teleworking – something that is noticeable mainly among Swedish (72%), British (69%) and Italian (67%) employees. Almost half also claim that they work more hours in a day when they work remotely. This applies primarily to French (58%), Italian (55%) and Belgian (54%) employees, while working more hours when remote working is less the case for Dutch (44%), German (43%) and Swedish (38%) employees.

      European employees would like to work remotely two to three days a week, but miss contact with colleagues

      For four out of ten European employees, the nature of their job allows them to work remotely. Half of those surveyed prefer remote working two to three days a week. For 15%, working remotely one day a week is enough, and just under 8% want to go back to working full time in the office. On the other hand, almost 14% stated they would like to work remotely on a full-time basis, with Spanish (26%), Finnish (22%) and British (21%) employees showing the strongest support for this. Friday appears to be the most popular day for teleworking (30%), followed by Monday (24%) and Wednesday (16%).

      The figures, however, show a remarkable contrast: although 50% indicated they would prefer to work from home two to three days a week, on average 46% of the respondents think it is important to see colleagues in the workplace five days a week. This shows that employees are still struggling with the trade-off between the desired number of days home working and the number of days needed to be able to maintain contact with colleagues in the workplace.

        One in three employees would like some tips for remote working

        Working from home on a regular basis is a recent phenomenon that has only been seen on a large scale with the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, there is still some demand for tips and guidance. For example, one in three employees (29%) indicated that they are open to receiving more tips about remote working within their organisation, with Spain (40%), Italy (34%) and Norway (33%) topping the list. Incidentally, the demand for tips is more common among managers (35%) than non-managers (25%).

        "Working from home or other places leads to greater freedom to manage the work-life balance. At the same time, employees face challenges in properly defining their work. Productivity figures show that employees are still divided on the impact of teleworking. Not everyone deals with it in the same way", says Bruce Fecheyr-Lippens, Chief People Officer at SD Worx. "We therefore recommend developing a teleworking policy based on three pillars: productivity, connection and competence. And always bear in mind that with the individual and the team, everyone's different. As an organisation, look at which groups benefit from remote working in terms of productivity and to what extent employees and managers have the right skills to be able to handle teleworking. The need for contact with colleagues shouldn't be underestimated, as good contact ensures greater involvement with the organisation. Agreements on how you keep in touch with your colleagues – what you do by email, via messaging or how often you consult by phone – are essential in organising work so that it's manageable.”