illions of people around the world were forced to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them normally work in an office, but took advantage of Zoom, Skype and other online platforms to work remotely. Some have already returned to work, but others are still at home, enjoying their last days of freedom.
Yes, even if there’s a lot of work to be done, doing it at home means enjoying a lot of freedom: the freedom to take breaks whenever you want, the freedom to watch TV while you work, and best of all, the freedom to put your boss on mute.
If you don’t believe me, just look at some of the results of a recent online survey of 1,000 remote workers who wished to continue working remotely. Commissioned by the website Digital.com, the survey uncovered some of the reasons these workers preferred working at home.
I was surprised to find that 75 per cent of remote workers want to stay home so they can spend more time with their pets. I wonder how the pets feel about this. Pets like to have a little freedom too. Our dog, for example, tries to look depressed when we’re leaving her alone at home. But the moment we leave, the party begins. She explores the kitchen, tries to open the refrigerator, then sniffs the houseplants to see if any of them is edible. She finally sits on the couch and tries to squeeze some flavour out of an object she found in the bedroom: one of my socks.
It’s less surprising to me that 72 per cent of remote workers want the freedom to nap or exercise during the day. I like to do both: take a nap and dream about exercising. I totally understand this desire. Most workers have very short lunch breaks, barely enough time to eat lunch, let alone take a nap or exercise. The only exercise you might get, if you’re lucky, is walking to a restaurant and back. It would be wise for companies to give workers extended breaks, so they can do a little yoga after lunch, for example. Flexible hours for flexible workers.
It’s also not surprising that 73 per cent of remote workers say they want to watch TV while working. Most workplaces, unfortunately, do not have enough TVs. Employers do not seem to understand how important it is for workers to keep up with cricket. It’s not just cricket, of course. It’s also other sports, as well as TV shows. Not every employer is like Verve Logic, the Jaipur-based IT company that recently gave employers a holiday so they could enjoy the release of Money Heist 5 on Netflix.
You may believe that watching cricket while working means that the work will suffer. But not watching cricket while working means that the worker will suffer.
Another major reason for workers preferring to stay at home is appearance. Concerned about their own appearance, they’re reluctant to make an appearance at work. Sixty-two per cent of workers cited this reason in the survey. Some have gained weight during their home stay and are concerned that they might not fit in the office cubicle. Others are concerned that their work attire of the past year—seldom-washed floral-patterned pajamas—will not be acceptable in the office.
When workers were asked for the most important factors in their desire to stay at home, two were most prominent: spending time with children, and saving time and money on the daily commute to work. These are quite understandable. Employers need to be more flexible. Perhaps they can allow workers to bring their children to work Mondays, their pets Tuesdays, their TVs Wednesdays, their exercise bikes Thursdays, and their pillows Fridays.