Employee Engagement

Poly launches behind the screens exposé on confessions of a hybrid worker, suggesting some may be suffering from ‘Home Comfort Syndrome’

Poly today released research findings that expose our hybrid working secrets. The survey, which was made up of 4,000 hybrid workers from the UK, France, and Germany, shines a light into new working behaviours and habits on and off camera. The findings suggest people may be suffering from ‘Home Comfort Syndrome’ as the lines between home and work blur.

“Hybrid and anytime working is helping to unshackle employees from the 9-5, giving workers the flexibility to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily have time for,” comments Paul Clark, senior vice president of EMEA sales at Poly. “For example, over 3 in 5 (68%) European hybrid workers are enjoying their lie ins, rolling out of bed with 30 minutes or less to spare before they start work, while almost a quarter of us have found more time to do more exercise, such as yoga, walking or stretching. We all need a better work/life balance, so it’s great that hybrid working is enabling this However, workers do need to be mindful that they don’t fall into the trap of Home Comfort Syndrome – becoming a bit too relaxed in meetings and forgetting where they are. Let’s hope that when people do return to the office, they at least remember to brush their teeth and wear deodorant.”

The findings expose the good, the bad and even the ugly hybrid and home working secrets:

The Good: A better work/life balance

Changing working patterns have resulted in workers having more time for themselves, allowing for anytime working and a better work/life balance. The proliferation of good quality audio and video devices has boosted the confidence of hybrid workers who are working from different home set-ups or background environments. Our findings show:

  • Many hybrid workers are enjoying lock-down lie ins, with almost a fifth (17%) saying they roll out of bed with five minutes or less to spare, while 68% wake up with only 30 minutes before starting work. Interestingly it’s the older generation prioritising their beauty sleep, as 31% of over 55s are waking up five minutes or less before work
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of employees have done exercise, such as yoga, walking around, or stretching when on a conference or video call
  • 24% of French respondents said that they had had their hair done or a beauty treatment when on a video or conference call. This is compared to just 4% of German and 6% of UK respondents
  • When on a video or conference call, 26% of employees have made use of the time to cook their breakfast, lunch or dinner; 21% have cleaned the house; and 19% have done the washing up or loaded the dishwasher
  • 28% of UK and French respondents have looked after their children while on a video of conference call, compared to 14% in Germany

The Bad: Bad habits and arguments

This is not to say that the sudden shift to home working has not taken its toll, with many feeling the tension and friction. Home Comfort Syndrome has seen many forget where they are, with a few regrettably getting caught on camera. This is where the balance between mental health and professionalism is shifting, with our findings showing that:

  • 40% of employees admit to shaking their heads or rolling their eyes on video and conference calls, with women more likely to do this than men (44% vs. 34%). A quarter of employees have witnessed a colleague doing so
  • 14% of respondents have seen or heard a colleague screaming when on a video or conference call
  • 18% of UK respondents and 16% of French respondents have seen or heard a colleague arguing with a partner or family member when on a video or conference call, compared to 8% in Germany
  • One in ten (10%) admit to having a nap while on a video or conference call
  • A further 37% of employees admit to working from the sofa, with nearly a quarter (24%) feeling less self-conscious about watching streaming services, such as Netflix, when they are meant to be working
  • Employees are less self-conscious about browsing the internet (42%), checking personal emails (40%), online shopping (36%), visiting social media sites (34%), and doing life admin (28%) when they are meant to be working

And The Ugly: Where we’re going, we don’t need ‘showers’…

With co-workers only seeing them through a lens, Home Comfort Syndrome has also led some to let their hygiene slip. This is where the line between what is and isn’t acceptable to do while at work has shifted, with our findings showing that:

  • Over a third (34%) of employees have gone to the toilet when on a video or conference call
  • 15% of UK respondents and 14% of French respondents have witnessed someone picking their nose on a video or conference call, compared to just 7% in Germany
  • 14% of employees admit to giving the finger or swearing on a video or a conference call, with 9% witnessing a colleague doing so
  • Of employees that are less concerned about their appearance since working from home (57%), 50% admit to wearing deodorant less frequently and 34% admit to brushing their teeth less frequently
  • Of employees that are less concerned about their appearance, 39% have been washing less frequently and 44% have been more open to working while hungover
  • 67% of those less concerned about their appearance since working from home say that they have saved money by not buying smarter clothes and toiletries
  • In addition, 73% have been spending less time grooming and getting ready for work, while 72% have been using fewer products, such as make-up and hair gel

“Hybrid working has forever changed business culture and working habits,” continues Clark. “Employees are choosing to work from anywhere – be it the office or the sofa – and at any time. To accommodate this moving forward, organisations need to understand the various personalities and working styles of employees. Identifying these will help businesses invest in the right technology to ensure everyone has the best tools and devices, enabling everyone to feel connected and involved, whenever and wherever they choose to work. Ultimately, the onus is on us, the employers, to approach all matters with empathy towards the employees, providing guidance on agile working and using technology correctly and realising that we are all humans.”

About the research

The findings are based on a study of 4,006 hybrid workers in the UK (2,003), France (1,001) and Germany (1,002), conducted by Censuswide in August 2021.

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