Women working remotely with children at home during lockdown saw their mental health get worse because of Covid-19; new research from Nationwide and Ipsos MORI uncovers the impact the pandemic has had on working families.
The national research, published as the UK approaches the one-year anniversary of the first national lockdown and as children return to school, comes as part of a wider focus on the future of the workplace by Britain’s biggest building society. As an organisation that has always endorsed flexible working, Nationwide sees a more hybrid future when it comes to work location and is calling for others to also rethink what flexible working should now mean.
Anna Whitehouse, aka flexible working champion ‘Mother Pukka’, launching the findings in partnership with Nationwide, said: “It’s about choice - where and when an employee works. Be that from the kitchen table, the office or the tinned goods aisle in a supermarket if that’s your preference. Flexibility isn’t something you need to earn. It’s not a ‘bonus ball’. It’s a fundamental shift in the way we work. In a working world that was born in the Industrial revolution and that needs to focus on talent. Recruiting talented people with caring responsibilities, living with mental health issues; those living with disabilities - those who want to live and work. It’s about working in a more human way that’s ultimately good for business.”
The research shows more than four in ten people (42%) with children at home feel that working remotely puts undue pressure on their wellbeing, compared with just over a quarter (27%) of those with no children in the household. Furthermore, just over a third (36%) of men working remotely with children at home reported their mental health getting worse due to Covid-19 but this increases to half (50%) among women in the same situation.
Despite the added pressures being felt, more than six in ten (62%) of those with children at home during lockdown say remote working allows them to achieve a better work-life balance. This is broadly consistent with those without children at home (60%), suggesting that there is a general view that remote working is a way to a better work-life balance
Jane Hanson, Chief People Officer at Nationwide, said: “At Nationwide, we make a clear distinction between ‘homeworking’ and ‘flexible working’. They are not the same thing. While the latter has been helped by the large-scale move to working from home throughout the pandemic, truly flexible working is about so much more than location. At its heart, flexible working is about creating a supportive culture that empowers people to feel that they can make active choices about how, where and when they work.
“Employers large and small, where possible, can use this time to reflect on how they work and what flexible working means for them and all their employees. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to reconsider how we make work-life more balanced by supporting everyone in a way that means they can bring their whole selves to work, each day.”
Ipsos MORI interviewed 2208 people aged 16-75 online between Friday 8th - Tuesday 12th January 2021, and data have been weighted to the known profile of the UK population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. For more information please contact Billie.Ing@ipsos.com