50% of SME employees finding mental health effected working from home but 89% want to continue

A recent study of UK SMES employees highlighted that there is little additional support from SME owners to meet employee wellbeing standards when working from home, as many make a more permanent change after lockdown. SME owners have had to manage a huge amount of changes and many are fighting to keep their businesses going and they often. don't have the support and infrastructure or time to manage staff working from home. The SME club offers advice and support to UK SMEs and has a tips section about supporting staff while they work from home.

The Working from Home study, conducted by Wildgoose, surveyed employees from 133 companies throughout the UK as the Covid-19 lockdown begins to ease. They were asked how their working day differs at whilst they have been working from home compared to being at their workplace, whether they would be happy to continue working from home after lockdown is ended, and how companies could improve home working practices.

Nearly half (47 percent) of employees at UK SME’s are finding that their mental health has been impacted by working from home. The study asked SME employees whether they could identify issues with team communication, desk setup, or working hours with the new working environment – just 22 percent of respondents stated that they have no issues.

Despite the challenges posed, the study found that 89 percent of workers in UK SMEs wanted to continue in working from home, compared to 74 percent of employees overall, and 69 percent of those working at companies with 1,000+ employees.

This suggests that UK SMEs in particular face the greatest pressure to create a structure to address the issues – adequate support should be introduced to ensure wellbeing and productivity.

What do SME employees want from their companies when working from home?

  • Casual contact. 3 in every 5 (60 percent) of employees at SMEs stated that they missed seeing their workmates and spending time with them face-to-face

  • Social time. Nearly half (47 percent) of SME employees would like more social contact with workmates as part of the working day via integrated communications, like daily video catch-ups and quizzes

  • Wellbeing support. 47 percent stated that their mental health is being impacted by isolation at home, a sub-optimal working environment, and other aspects of WFH

When it comes to specific ways in which employees want their companies to improve home working practices, there were similarities between SMEs, medium to large companies and very large companies. However, the study also found key differences in how companies of varying sizes have adapted to the shift in working patterns.

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