Summer holidays pushes 4 in 5 parents to plan return to the office

Working 9 to 5 is a tempting prospect for many parents, as new research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance shows that parents with children still at home were the most eager to return to the workplace in order to re-establish some normality and work life balance into their lives.

Asking a nationally representative sample of senior decision makers in small businesses, the research found that 81% of respondents with children still at home were feeling positive about a return to the office, with parents of 6-18 year olds the most keen (82%). This is compared with just 53% of those whose children have left home and 69% of single adults without children.

Restrained by wet weather and the impact of COVID, it is no surprise to see that working from home has been made harder for parents, with many eager to get back to the office as a break from childcare responsibilities, chores and endless distractions.

Specifically, the research found that:

  • Order restored – nearly half of parents with kids still at home (44%) were looking forward to getting out of the house and having a proper work routine. By contrast, just a third (33%) of households without children at home were looking forward to this.
  • Grown up conversations – a third of parents missed interaction with their work colleagues (32% vs. 24% of households without children at home) and hoped to return to the office in order to have conversation with people their own age. Similarly, parents were more eager to get out and have face-to-face interactions with clients again (20% vs 17% of bosses without kids at home), and more likely to want to ditch Zoom calls (10% vs 4% households without children in the house).
  • Clear home/work boundaries – just under a third of parents were hoping that a return to work would serve as a clear boundary between work and home life, giving more balance to their routine and allowing for more personal time (25% parents with kids at home vs 14% of those without kids at home).
  • Distracting toddlers – parents with young children were most likely to cite too many distractions as a reason they would like to return to the office, with childcare duties likely merging into their work week (14% compared with just 6% of those parents whose kids no longer live at home).
  • Professional appearance – A quarter of parents are eager to get into smart clothes after months of wearing lockdown loungewear (26%) – this spiked to 28% for parents with children under the age of five who are ready to trade baby food-stained clothes for work attire in order to regain a feeling of professionalism. This was twice the proportion of parents whose children have left home (12%).

Joanna Morris, Head of Insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance comments:  “Balancing childcare with running a successful business can feel like having two full-time jobs. The wet weather this summer, difficulties getting abroad, combined with the multitude of other complications that COVID has presented, has meant that parents have had a particularly tough time. The fact that the vast majority of businesses have managed to keep the wheels of their businesses turning during this time is a huge achievement.

“This research serves as an indication of the pressures small business owners have been under, with long hours and extra distractions as many parents navigate working from home. Lockdown forced all businesses into an unfamiliar way of working, and each has adapted and evolved in their own way, to meet the challenges each faced. Inevitably, these pressures will shape how we come out of lockdown, with technology enabling business owners and their staff to keep all plates spinning.”