Careers Flexible Working Future of work Output

Productivity, Productivity, They’ve all got it in for Me!

The figures from the Office of National Statistics are in and they make for very interesting reading. What figures are these? Productivity estimates for Q4, 2021.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The figures show that remote, flexible working has created a more productive workforce. Not just productive, but a workforce that is more productive working fewer hours.

Line Graph showing the increase of Output Productivity and hours worked from 2008 to 2021.
(Line Graph showing the increase of Output from 2008 to 2021.)

The Productivity Numbers Don’t Lie!

There is a vast amount of statistical detail and analysis behind the figures produced by the ONS so I’ll keep it simple. Prior to the pandemic, average hours worked by UK workers were 32.1 a week. For the final quarter of 2021, it is estimated the average number of hours worked was 31.6 per week. Output, however, was 0.8% above 2019 levels.

Interestingly, on the day these figures were published, my wife had been working in her office. It was the first time she had gone to her workplace for ages. I happened to tell her about the ONS stats and she said: “Well I left the house this morning at 7.30am and I’m just back now, so that’s a 12 hour day and I’ve spent maybe six of that actually working.”

I think my wife’s comment sums up the problem with the old, inflexible working culture. Everyone wasted time commuting to an office to use a laptop when that same device works perfectly well at home.

So to Maximize Productivity should we Abolish Office Working?

No, I am not suggesting we should get away of all offices forever. I think that is unrealistic and they do serve a purpose for team building, training, occasional meetings etc. Nonetheless, the figures suggest a predominantly home-based workforce, one that doesn’t pollute the planet travelling to work each day, is more productive.

I had long wondered what impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on productivity. It was reasonable to think things could be that bad because I didn’t hear any employers saying the productivity of their staff had tanked when the ‘work from home’ orders were in place in England. I have to caution that the ONS stats are estimates, but if they are correct, they show that remote work is productive work (It is also worth noting this set of stats are the first set to be produced following the ending of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which had an impact on productivity levels).

Creating a Productive Future of Working.

What I hope this leads to is a discussion about presenteeism and flexibility. If you can be more productive working fewer hours, why should you be online or in the workplace simply because your contract says you should? Better still, if you can be more productive without travelling to a workplace, why should you experience the stress of making that journey in the first place?

This is particularly relevant for fathers. Research carried out at the beginning of the pandemic by the Fatherhood Institute found dads spent more time with their families and took on more of the domestic burden when they no longer had to commute to work.

Could we possibly reach a point where employment contracts state that they expect you to work: “38 hours a week or until you have completed allotted tasks to your manager’s satisfaction, whichever comes first”? I’d like to think this is the next logical step.

Prioritising Productivity Going Forward.

Now is the time to ask these questions. The work from home order is no longer in place in England and it does feel like we are entering a new phase of the pandemic. Potential conflict in the Ukraine and Prince Andrew’s legal battles are dominating the news headlines (for all the wrong reasons I should stress) but COVID is way down the news agenda. After two years of this nonsense, we seem to be drifting to a point where we are adapting our lives and accepting the fact COVID is here to stay.

What COVID did was get everyone thinking about working culture: Employees, employers, trade unions, academics and policy makers. As part of this drift to a new normal, we must not forget about the progress made in adopting flexible and remote working. There’s now evidence to show productivity has improved by working this way. If anything, now is the time to shout loudest to make sure we don’t slide back to less productive working patterns. After all, unproductive working patterns are bad for everyone.

To find out more about Output based working have a read of our piece on Input and Output – The Human Mechanics of Work!


Top 6 Wellbeing Apps

The Wellbeing Apps You Can Do Every Day

Wellbeing apps can provide an easy, quick way to work in mindfulness, exercise and training into busy lifestyles. Our bodies and minds are key to functioning at a happier and more productive level. A healthy mind needs to co exist with a healthy body for all round wellbeing.

Here are our top picks from wellbeing apps for ios and android on the market today.

Calm – Meditation and Sleep

This wellbeing app is for reducing stress and encouraging meditation. It’s an all round winner in the reviews.  4.7 / 5 from 74.4K Ratings on ios. Complete bitesize meditations or longer sessions to really find your focus. Learn the skill of meditation, get more restful sleep and watch videos on mindful movements and gentle stretching and listen.

Headspace Meditation & Sleep

Think calmer, happier and relaxed. This app focuses on helping you train your mind and body through relaxation and mindfulness. 4.8 / 5 from over 179K reviews on ios.

Seven – 7 Minute Workout

Yes, just 7 minutes. No fancy equipment needed. Simple but effective workouts that can be squeezed into a busy schedule. Start the day with a burst of energy or shaking off the stresses of the day early evening. This wellbeing app gains 4.7 / 5 from 25.2K reviews

Peak – Play Smarter

The wellbeing app to challenge your brain. Give your brain a regular workout and keep those grey cells active. Neuroplasticity is a concept that believes your brain health can be weakened and strengthened. Using your cognitive skills regularly helps to strengthen your brain. So don’t just train your body, train your brain too for optimal health. This app gains 4.7 / 5, from 93.6K ratings.

One You Couch To 5K – Running for beginners

A flexible programme to work around one of the flexible jobs on our jobs board! Work up to running 5k at your own pace at a time that suits you. Works alongside your favourite music player automatically dipping the volume so you can hear instructions.

Breethe: Sleep & Meditation

Guided meditations to help you destress and sleep better in bitesize sessions. Inhale happiness with Breethe. Also features a full 12-week daily program to learn to meditate and progressively bring more calm and clarity into your life. Scoring 4.8 / 5, from 22K ratings.

Now you’re feeling ready to take on the world with your optimism and healthy mind, search for your next flexible working role on our jobs board.

Maybe you need some help with writing your CV…Check this article out.

Need some tips for refocusing and getting back on track? Then read 11 Ways To A Positive Mind.

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