Within a quarter, worker comfort in returning to the workplace has witnessed a jump from 71% (Jan 2022) to 82% (Mar 2022), reveals the latest survey from the Conference Board.
About three-quarters (75%) of the survey respondents in the US, stated that returning to the workplace will boost networking opportunities and contribute to building relationships. Employees also believe that such return will further enhance collaboration (72%) and help maintain culture (70%)
According to a Sep 2021 report, employees admitted to feeling more isolated from their organisations amid the pandemic. In fact, more than half (51%) of those working remotely were concerned about limited connection with their colleagues and 47% were worried about blurred work-life boundaries.
The blurry work-life boundaries are worrying hybrid workers (41%) alike.
A little over a third (34%) were anxious about the constant expectation to be available while 32% mirrored the anxiety about increased hours or workload.
“While remote work surely provides a desirable work-life balance for many, these results suggest that the lack of clear boundaries in many remote-work arrangements can fuel stress and burnout,” says Rebecca Ray, EVP Human Capital at the Conference Board.
However, despite the pros of coming back to offices, it carries the burden of accompanying cons as well. A third (33%) actually working from the office are concerned about the increased time and cost to commute. More prevalent among millennials (59%) than Gen X (31%) and Baby Boomers (30%), this worry was also visible among more women (43%) than men (25%).
Beyond office-goers, 39% of hybrid workers are worried by limited connection with colleagues and just under a third (31%) are concerned with the increased time and cost of commuting.
Further, the fear of contracting COVID-19 at the workplace persists, for more than a quarter (26%) of the workforce. Again, more prevalent among millennials (35%) and women (30%) in comparison to their counterparts (19%of Gen X, 31% of Baby Boomers and 21% of men).
Some of the other predominant concerns of office workers as per the survey findings are:
- Decreased mental health (41%),
- Decreased engagement and morale (38%) and
- Increased burnout (41%)
“Rather than assuming a return to the office will be the panacea, leaders can also be proactive in helping to set and maintain more definitive work boundaries in this new world of work,” advised Ray.
As organisations contemplate the best move forward, the likes of Airbnb have laid a truly refreshing perspective on the way work might be done, keeping in mind the well-being of both the business as well as the workforce. How other organisations strike that balance will be key to ensuring a healthy high-performing business as well as workforce.