Protect Your Bubble research reveals productivity and cybersecurity as huge concerns under COVID-19 home working

by Corinne Webb | Sep 14, 2020

The current and on-going Coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses to restructure and adapt to working from home. With this in mind, here at Protect Your Bubble, we surveyed over 2,000 UK employees across a wide range of industries to find out how employees have experienced home working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We uncovered some interesting and concerning practices and habits when it comes to employees attitudes to working from home. 

Our findings suggest productivity during remote working, could be declining, as only 15 percent say they haven’t engaged in non-work-related activities while working from home during their normal working hours.

Non-work-related activities

% of respondents

Housework

38

Looking at social media

37

Online shopping

36

Cooking

36

Watching TV/Netflix

36

Exercise

31

Personal life admin

30

Playing videogames/phone games

20

Sleeping

18

Video calling friends or family

17

Grooming (e.g. painting nails)

12

Sex

11

Searching online for a new job

9

Watching adult content

6




 
Housework is the most common non-work-related activity with nearly 40 percent of respondents admitting to cleaning their homes during work hours. Exploring social media (37%) follows closely in second place, with online shopping (36%) cooking (36%) and watching TV (36%) taking joint third place. 

Shockingly, almost 1 in 5 respondents admit to sleeping on the job, and nearly 10 percent have spent time actively searching for a new job online. Some people admitted to taking non-work-related activities even further to the extreme – 11% admitted to having sex and 6% admitted to watching adult content while on the clock!

Another area where standards appear to have slipped is cyber security via the use of vulnerable personal devices for work purposes.

When employees were asked if they had downloaded commercially sensitive or confidential company files on to any personal device (either a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone) while working from home, nearly 20 percent said yes.

Of these respondents, 40 percent also admitted that these personal devices either did not have password protection or up-to-date security software installed, 7 percent had neither.

According to the survey, younger employees are the most likely to have a more relaxed approach when it comes to security on their personal devices compared to older age groups. Almost 30 percent of under 24s had used personal devices for work purposes over the past six months and of these, 50 percent did not have either password protection or security software installed. 

This emphasises the need for businesses to offer more company-issued devices alongside continuous cyber security training, particularly among its younger employees, to avoid the use of unprotected personal devices.

Our survey reveals a number of additional trends and data around home working, which are likely to shape the future of the UK workforce and what traditional working life might become.

Office banter and face-to-face contact with colleagues are the aspects of day-to-day office life that UK workers miss the most about working in an office environment –

Most missed aspect of working in an office

% of respondents

Office banter with colleagues

62

Face-to-face meetings

34

Having a designated desk

22

After work socials

20

Having strict start and finish times

17

Free food or drinks

10

Tea/coffee being made

9

Commuting

7

Air conditioning

6

Your boss

4

Water cooler

4

Other

2


 
Missing out on free food and drinks are popular too, though not many people seem to miss their boss!


With over a fifth of office workers not being provided with any equipment or materials from their employer to help them work from home more comfortably and efficiently, more than half surveyed have spent their own money on such items. The most common self-purchases are stationary, office chairs and desks –

What equipment have you paid for yourself?

% of respondents

Stationary

19

Office chair

18

Desk

17

Mouse

13

Keyboard

10

Laptop

10

Phone

10

Mouse pad

10

Laptop stand

8

Second screen

7

Desktop computer

7

Webcam

6

Tablet

6

Other

2

























On average UK workers have spent £145.89 of their own money on equipment or materials to assist in working from home. Nearly 30 survey respondents spent over £1,000, with some spending as much as £5,000 on new office equipment. 

Less than a quarter of UK workers have a dedicated home office they have been able to utilise while working from home, with most people having to adapt to a less than ideal workstation. 23 percent of survey respondents have worked from their kitchen table, as well as 14 percent from their sofa, and 10 percent from bed 

Where have you worked from at home?

% of respondents

Dedicated home office

24

Living room (but not on sofa)

24

Kitchen table

23

Spare bedroom

16

Bedroom (but not on the bed)

14

Sofa

14

On the bed

10

Garden

6

Other

4

 
The most positive aspects of working from home are rated as not having a commute, having greater flexibility and freedom, and an overall better work/life balance

What have you enjoyed most about working from home?

% of respondents

No commute

50

Working hours flexibility

38

Better work/life balance

34

More freedom with lunch break (e.g. working out, watching TV)

31

Peace and quiet

21

Being able to cook whatever you want when you want

17

Not leaving your pet(s)

15

In charge of the music

11

Less distractions

11

I can control the temperature

8

No unpleasant odours

4

No loud chewers

4

I haven't enjoyed anything about working from home

3

Other

1






















 
Whereas the aspects workers have struggled most with while working from home are being interrupted or distracted, as well as feeling unmotivated and isolated without traditional office life 

What are the biggest negatives about working from home?

% of respondents

Interruptions from people you live with, pets or children

24

Difficult to feel motivated and be productive

22

Getting easily distracted

22

Feeling lonely or isolated from your team

20

Not being able to switch off after work

17

Not having a designated work space

13

Rising utility bills at home (i.e. gas, electric, water)

13

Slow/broken internet

12

Feeling anxious about your work or performance

12

There are no negative(s) I've experienced when working from home

11

Virtual meetings

11

Sharing space with others at home

10

Not feeling supported by managers or colleagues

8

Poor workspace equipment

7

Poor access to central systems

6

Difficulty managing workload and communicating that to managers

6

Being CC'd into more emails

5

Not enough plug sockets

3

Other

1




 
Work video calls are something we’ve all had to embrace over the last few months and getting comfortable being on camera is easier said than done! Not everyone is keen on video calls however, with over half our survey respondents admitting to making up excuses to avoid joining calls or using their webcam –

What excuses have you used to avoid work video calls?

% of respondents

I look terrible today

18

My internet is bad

18

I don't have one

13

My room is untidy

10

It's broken

9

The lighting is bad

8

Other

2





 
Even once we are on a video call, there are a multitude of distractions and frustrations which we’ve all had to get used to! Our survey respondents were asked what the most annoying aspects of work video calls, with participants interrupting each other and unreliable connections coming out on top –

What are the most annoying aspects of work video calls?

% of respondents

People interrupting each other

33

Internet being patchy or cutting out

33

Other background noise (e.g. washing machine, traffic)

19

Not being able to stop looking at myself to see how I look to others

17

I don't find anything annoying about work video calls

17

Colleagues talking on mute

15

Children interrupting

14

Late entries

11

Heavy breathing

8

Keyboard tapping

8

Background music

6

Pets being loud

6

Colleagues eating loudly

5

Other

2



 
Video calls aside and overall, on balance, many UK workers prefer working from home rather than in a traditional office environment. Our survey found that workers are generally much less stressed (8 percent of respondents regard themselves as ‘very stressed’ at home, compared to 14 percent while in the office), and more workers are working less hours than when comparing to their old working environment (34 percent say they are working less hours, 27% say they are working more hours, and 39 percent about the same). 

Perhaps most tellingly, if it were offered to them, almost a third of workers would accept a 10 percent pay cut to continue working from home indefinitely. 

Sources:

Survey carried out by Censuswide with a sample size of 2010 UK employees who are currently working from home due to COVID-19.

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