A new survey from Bright Horizons, supported by workingdads.co.uk, shows that the majority of working parents want more homeworking after lockdown, mixed with time in the office.
63% of those surveyed by nursery and work+family employer solutions provider Bright Horizons believe their employers will be more open to remote or flexible working in the future, and only 13% want to go back to working full time in the office when lockdown eases.
Almost all of the 1,500 UK working parents surveyed worked mostly or exclusively in offices or other workplaces prior to the lockdown (96%). Now, 68% overall are working from home, with higher proportions in the “non-critical” sectors.
Almost 50% of those who were fully based within an office pre-coronavirus are now considering asking for more permanent remote or agile working. More than half (55%) of all respondents would choose to spend no more than three days at their place of work, with the rest of the time working from home or remotely. Almost 80% of parents believe that more flexible working in their lives would have a positive impact on them, and by extension their employers. 53% agree that flexibility would increase their productivity, and 58% agreed that their loyalty to their employer would increase as a result. However, 78% agreed that they do miss regular face to face interaction with their colleagues.
On a positive note, 81% of those surveyed believed that their line manager has been supportive and understanding during the crisis – and 78% agree that their employer understands they are having to juggle work and childcare and have adjusted expectations accordingly. 75% agree that their business or organisation has been managed well during the pandemic.
The “Pandemic spirit” – of all being in this together, and striving to make it work – has helped parents cope so far, with 54% of all respondents reporting being “happy and cheerful” all or most of the time. But the resounding message from the research is that parents are finding it more and more difficult to juggle childcare and work as the crisis goes on. Survey respondents overwhelmingly say that working from home is unsustainable without childcare or school. Some are approaching the challenge with alternating shifts between partners. Other families are clearly struggling.
When it comes to practical support that parents would like from their employers, 70% want more support/help with long term childcare, 64% expressed interest in back-up care for family care emergencies, and 44% say coaching to enable better planning and management of work and family would help. Equipment such as chairs and improved internet connections were also raised.
On sharing childcare, there is some evidence that some women perceive a slight increase in fairness in the division of domestic chores, but there is concern that the burden of childcare is falling most heavily on mothers. The survey reveals growing frustrations in some families about which parent’s work is more important, with 31% of respondents (mostly women) saying that their partner’s work responsibilities unfairly take precedence over their own.