Between ensuring business continues, having to put staff on furlough and remote working, what is French people’s experience of living and working during the pandemic? What is the impact of lockdown on their relationship to work? What have they missed or appreciated? What lessons can be learnt? In order to delve deeper into the subject, BNP Paribas Real Estate, in partnership with Ifop, has carried out a survey on the living and working conditions of French people in lockdown (1,508 interviewees).
Working at home: it’s not all black and white
Of those surveyed, nearly 40% estimate that they work less efficiently from home, compared with 10% who say they work better. Women are the most affected at 43% vs. 34% for men. These feelings reflect the exceptional conditions of confinement and depend very much on people’s home and family situation. What’s more, the current period is not perceived as a simple period of remote working, but more as one of enforced lockdown. This is a major difference because these new “remote workers” do not benefit from the same working or concentration conditions during the current period as they would have in a normal working from home context.
Another key finding of the survey is that 61% of employees with managerial responsibilities believe that they work just as effectively and 13% believe they work more effectively. In contrast, 37% of non-managerial employees feel they are less effective, compared with 27% of managers.
Overall, 51% of those currently working from home say they find it harder to concentrate and 53% say they are less productive.
Working from home: does housing play a role in the ability to work during lockdown?
Across all French regions, 50% of employees believe that they can work at home as well as they do in the office. However, for workers living in and around Paris, this figure is 44%. Unsurprisingly, teleworkers living in a house are less impacted with 65% of them stating that they work as well or even more efficiently. The number of rooms in the house also seems to play a determining role, since the more space the home has, the more working at home is considered possible. For homes with 5 rooms or more, 68% of working people say they work as well or more efficiently, while for smaller homes, with 1 or 2 rooms, confinement proves to be a real hindrance to employee performance (between 45% and 52% consider that they work as well or better).
Isolation is also an important consideration, since 44% of people living alone feel that they don’t do so as well from their homes.
Believe that they can work at home as well as they do in the office
Enjoy not having to commute
Would like to work from home more often
Are we revamping the image of remote working?
The lockdown period has made it possible to shake things up, seeing as 41% of the sample of those working from home believe that the experience of confinement has had a positive impact on their image of home working. This feeling is shared between men and women, but is reinforced among interviewees under the age of 35 (44%) as well as among non-managerial teleworkers (51%).
Do we miss the office building?
Whilst people see the benefits of working from home, many also cited certain elements of the office that they miss, including: professional exchanges between colleagues (23%), a more distinct separation between professional and personal life (13%) and the tools available at the office (16%).
Conversely, the changes most appreciated are the elimination of commuting time (36%) and more flexible working hours (18%), followed by the opportunity to work quietly (17%) or to be able to enjoy one's family (16%).
How do French employees see the future of work?
Those surveyed were also questioned about the changes they would like to see initiated by their company, and the ways of working they would like to keep after lockdown.
In response to their need for flexibility and agility, people would like to be able to work from home more often (53%) and benefit from a work organisation that is more adapted to their expectations (staggered or personalised working hours in particular - 48%). The need to benefit from collaborative teleworking tools was also noted (39%) as well as the possibility of being able to work away from others when having to concentrate (38%).
On the other hand, while 52% of the interviewees would like to benefit from co-working spaces, 36% prefer to work less often in such shared areas.
These are interesting initial conclusions, which show that through different experiences of lockdown and remote working, profound changes will be necessary tomorrow. The organisation of our professional lives must be reimagined to allow a more personalised experience for each employee. Will the world of tomorrow see the growth and development of remote working? Only time will tell.