27% did not take their full annual leave allowance – something that is vital for maintaining mental and physical wellbeing – highlighting a key area for companies to address

Statistics from a recent study show that many home-working parents in the UK have been in a cycle of fatigue, with remote working blurring the line between work and home life.

When asked about the negative effects they felt when working from home, 25% of parents reported that their quality of sleep had worsened and 28% went as far as to say that they had felt depressed, anxious or exhausted.

Worryingly, a quarter of parents disclosed that they did not take time off work when ill and working from home. 42% of parents would also have liked more support with childcare from their employers during lockdown.

The ‘2021 Working from Home Survey’, conducted by remote team building company Wildgoose, asked employees from 133 companies throughout the UK how working from home has impacted them, whether they have been able to keep a good work/life balance, and how companies could improve home working practices.

What do parents want from companies and HR?

Participants identified a number of measures that companies could take to reduce the work-related stress and fatigue they felt at home. 52% wanted their employers to provide incentive programs for fitness and wellness, while 48% thought something as simple as encouraging everyday casual communication would be beneficial.

In order to lessen the mental and physical strain, 55% of parents in the UK want more support from their employers to help keep work within working hours. The effects are being felt by parents across the board. Although the gradual opening of schools should have a positive impact on parent fatigue, to break the cycle, decision makers are also being implored to adapt their HR and employee wellbeing programmes to address the situation.

Commenting on the findings, Wildgoose managing director Jonny Edser states:

“By providing the appropriate support, employers and HR leaders can lessen this negative impact on working parents. Creating incentive wellness programmes and ensuring employees stick to their working hours are two key ways. Meaningful communication between colleagues is also worth investing in, as its positive impact can filter throughout employees’ work and personal lives, as well as the business itself. As a company we are continuing to innovate by offering remote workforces unique team building activities that reinforce bonds. They’ve seen a fantastic response, and we expect this trend to continue growing.”

Claire Brown, Career Change Coach, former Occupational Therapist, and mum of two, says:

“For many of us as parents, the constant juggling of competing demands upon our time requires a huge amount of mental energy, switching our attention from one task to another, feeling perhaps we are not enabled to do any one thing well. Also, the need to effectively manage everyone’s expectations can add to this emotional strain.

Above all, having an understanding employer that really recognises the challenges can make a huge difference for overwhelmed and exhausted parents. I came across one company who has arranged for a card and small gift to be sent to every working parent on their team to thank them and congratulate them for all their hard work whilst having little or no childcare support this past year.”

Caitlin Foley, Shareholder and Executive Coach at Sama, says:

“It is so important that HR and business leaders take into account anyone who might be feeling additional pressure from being in a carer position. I’d encourage employers to be role models themselves, by being open with their team about where they might be struggling with similar issues, and what they have found helpful in their own situation. Respect boundaries, be flexible, and encourage others to do the same.”