Anxiety looms for many workers ordered to return to the office
- As more workers from all professions return to the office, many grapple with anxiety, change management and the logistics of restructuring their lives.
- Workers say commuting, less flexibility, possible exposure to the virus and childcare issues are the main factors contributing to their anxiety.
- The lack of clear communication from employers about returning to the office exacerbates the anxiety and fear that many workers feel about RTO, especially those who are mandated to do so.
Why are many workers worried about being called back to the office after working remotely?
Returning to the office creates relief for some, but anxiety for many. Workers who may feel uncomfortable returning to their workplace have a list of valid reasons, such as fear of contracting COVID-19, having to deal with the stress of commuting and commuting. traffic, feeling less productive in the workplace due to distractions and a lack of flexibility.
Letting workers choose their schedule and location allows for a sense of flexibility and empowerment, which increases employee morale.
Employees who are afraid of having to work in person again may feel more productive and comfortable at home, especially if they are introverts.
According to a survey by The Limeade Institute, the main sources of anxiety about returning to work include:
- Being exposed to COVID-19 – 77%
- Less flexibility – 71%
- Getting to work – 68%
- Wearing a mask – 54%
- Childcare need – 22%
- Other – 7%
Zero percent of those surveyed said they did NOT have anxiety about returning to work.
All survey participants – regardless of where they currently work – were asked what their main sources of stress were when generally considering next year.
- The health and safety of themselves and their families (82.4%) was the main source of stress selected
- Economic uncertainty (82%) was the second
- 55% of employees indicated some stress about job security
- 49% of employees cited political polarization
When asked what other aspects of their working life employees want to keep, these were the most desirable:
- Flexibility in working hours – 68%
- Time spent working from home – 54%
- Productivity – 58%
81% of employees said their productivity has stayed the same or increased. When asked if the physical space they currently work in helps them thrive, only 54% of employees felt it did, indicating that while employees may like a lot about the workplace. remote work, their home may not be optimized for work.
There are advantages to working from home during the pandemic, as well as disadvantages
Good points :
- Working from home is convenient
- It gives people more autonomy
- Working only from home means avoiding long trips and managing traffic
- Telecommuting allows you to spend more time with your family
Negative points :
- Working alone can increase loneliness
- It can cause strain in relationships with spouses or family members
- Increased loneliness can increase the risk of mental health problems
- Remote work poses the risk of losing work-life balance
But working full time in the office isn’t ideal either. Working full time in an office can contribute to burnout and increased stress and anxiety. In 2019, 94% of American workers reported experiencing stress in the workplace. 56% of employees surveyed said anxiety affects their performance at work, and half reported a negative impact on relationships with colleagues and peers.
While not everyone may experience the same level of stress and anxiety when working in the office, it can greatly affect the performance of some employees, which is why employers may need to adopt a return-to-office strategy. flexible and more empathetic.
Which companies are returning to the office?
Airbnb employees don’t have to return to the office until September 2022. When that happens, “people won’t be expected to come back to the office five days a week, every week,” according to CEO Brian Chesky.
Amazon does not plan to bring its corporate workers back to the office until Jan. 3, 2022, according to the Commercial Observer.
American Airlines manages its employees under a flexible hybrid model with management and support staff in the office three days a week. The company has flexible hours for full-time office workers, likely starting in the fall.
American Express does not foresee a full return to power until at least January 24, although those who wish to enter before may voluntarily. The company is also adopting a hybrid model that will emphasize flexibility.
Apple employees are not expected to be back in the office until January at the earliest. The company has adopted a hybrid model for those who return and encourages employees to get vaccinated.
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Asana workers in San Francisco and New York are not expected to return to the office until February 1, 2022, at the earliest.
Facebook allows those who can do their work remotely to do so on a permanent basis and does not plan to require employees to come to the office before January.
Google pushed back its return to office date from Oct. 18 to Jan. 20, 2022, and returning employees should be vaccinated unless they can prove an exemption. One-fifth of the company’s employees will continue to work remotely all the time, and others will operate on a hybrid model.
PwC became the first of the large accounting firms to allow its customer service staff (40,000 employees) to work remotely at all times. Those who choose to work in a lower cost area will see their wages decrease.
How many employees want to return to the office?
A hybrid workplace model is preferred by 68% of workers, but a third of employees want to return to the office full time.
What’s better – working from home or the office?
There’s a lot to be said about both ways of working, but a more in-between solution is ideal.
As companies analyze ways to get workers back to the office, flexible office brand Industrious has recommended a 30% model. This involves questioning employees every 30 days and bringing in 30% of employees.
This model allows businesses to gradually move from home to hybrid and allows employees to benefit from both remote and office time.
Industrious argues that “the office we return to should be less like a classroom with neatly aligned rows of desks and more like a student center – a magnet for social activity, connection and collaboration.”
This type of workplace can better support remote and in-person employees by enabling active management of worker interactions.
Employers in the face of conflict
On the one hand, employers want to take care of the health of their employees and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. But they are also motivated by financial incentives to justify expensive office rents and allow their employees to physically attend meetings and discussions, or simply be able to control their working time.
Pressuring employees to return to the office could create more anxiety.
56% of survey respondents said their employers had not asked them for their opinion on return-to-work policies and procedures.
This breakdown in communication between employees and employers could create anxiety among employees who are unwilling or not yet ready to return to the physical workplace.
Hybrid workspaces offer a solution
For workers who are happier at home and for those who may wish to resume the daily commute to 9-5, hybrid and flexible workspaces may be the best options.
A hybrid workspace retains all of the benefits of the office, while reducing the sense of isolation for those who suffer from it, while creating a sense of routine while creating a collaborative space for workers.
Mark Dixon, founder and CEO of International Workplace Group, said some people perform best in a strictly work place.
“Some people can work from home, and they’re good and very disciplined. Others do much better in an office. Maybe at home there are too many interruptions. Personally, I like going to an office because if I don’t, I’ll be working day and night. Being able to leave the office is an important mental break, ”Dixon told the BBC.
In a hybrid working model and / or in a coworking space, employees who need the peace of mind to concentrate or who thrive in an office environment may have the choice of working where and when they are most productive.
What will happen to people’s work schedules as the pandemic ends?
The vast majority of employers have in fact yet to release any plans for the post-pandemic workplace, but it is clear that workers greatly value flexibility.
More than half (54%) of employees surveyed globally would consider leaving their jobs after the pandemic if they do not have flexibility in where and when they work.
Despite the overwhelming recognition of the importance of flexible working, an EY survey found that 35% of employers polled want all of their employees to return to the office full-time after the pandemic.
The plans to return to the office have been named “The Great Wait”. At the end of August, 66% of organizations were delaying reopening offices due to COVID variants. It’s not clear whether full-time work from the office will be the norm again, but most workers don’t want it to be.
What would be best for most office workers (and what’s most likely to happen for many of them) is something between old-fashioned office work and digital nomadism. Most companies are still deciding exactly what their post-pandemic workspaces will look like.
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