Remote Work Fails to Solve Work/Life Balance Conundrum

The number of people satisfied with their work/life balance has declined over the last two years, despite the increase in flexible and hybrid working, a new survey has found.

Figures from employee experience consultant People Insight show that the number of people who feel they are striking the right balance between home and work has fallen by almost 10% in two years. In 2024, only 61% felt the balance was right, down from almost 70% in 2022, while that number dropped further to 59% in education.

Positivity around work/life balance was not the only area to see a decline. The number of people who felt their organisation did enough to support health and wellbeing at work also fell in the last two years – from 66% in 2022 to 59% in 2024. This area revealed significant differences across sectors, with those in financial services most likely to feel their workplace cared about their mental health at 73%, compared to only 50% in private education.

People Insight has surveyed thousands of workforces across the UK, working with firms such as Greggs, Vinted, Cote Brasserie, and Virgin Active.

Head of Consultancy Kate Pritchard said the findings should be both a warning to bosses and provide an opportunity to turn the tide to see numbers go in the right direction.

Hybrid working has become more popular, leaping from 13% in early February 2022 to 24% in May 2022 according to ONS. As of June 2023, 29% of people worked from home some of the time.

But added Kate this had not seen a similar rise in the amount of people feeling this benefitted their overall work life balance - so important to everyone’s mental health.

“These results should be a warning to bosses this week of all weeks that we can do more to listen to what workers need to feel that their wellbeing is a priority and that they are being listened to,” added Kate.

“The increase in hybrid working has seen such a rapid rise but that may mean there is some catching up to do to get all the right structures and support in place for it to really improve how we get that balance right between work and home life. And we may need more sectors like education to consider how they can better support their staff when hybrid working is not possible.

“Employees' expectations have risen, and it is important for them to feel they have a voice and action will happen as a result of them having a say."

The survey findings did reveal that almost three quarters of those in professional bodies would feel confident about raising an issue regarding their wellbeing with someone at work. That figure rose to 81% in the private sector.

Numbers were also above 70% when it came to those who felt their manager cared about their wellbeing across both private and public sectors.

“There are also some positive findings from these survey questions and ones which highlight that employees are very open to talking more and that leaders can do a great deal to encourage such a positive culture.  While there is more work to be done, that is reassuring.”