Executives and employees say they’re not feeling the support of their teams.
Nearly 90% of workers who work remotely or hybrid work — spending some time at home and at the office — say there is a lack of connection with other members of their team. Some 72% of workers who were surveyed said that they’re missing downtime with their co-workers, and aren’t able to socialize enough when they’re remote.
The findings were based on a survey by Airspeed, an employee social-media platform, and Workplace Intelligence, a research and advisory firm, carried out between March 8 and March 20, 2022. Some 800 C-suite executives and 800 employees working at remote or hybrid organizations were polled.
“The transition to remote work has been immensely challenging for businesses and their employees,” said Doug Camplejohn, founder and CEO of Airspeed. “However, our findings revealed that most executives didn’t fully grasp just how much this shift would affect their workforce.”
Remote work cuts down on grueling commutes and helps parents juggle work/life responsibilities, but some are feeling the burn. “So many people reported feeling lonely, disengaged and detached from their co-workers and their company,” Camplejohn said. “We’re at a critical turning point now where leaders need to make connection a priority.”
“Some people have lost the spontaneous connection they experience when they see a friendly face: no more having a laugh with colleagues while standing in line for lunch or chatting about the latest TV show. ”
While many employees who have the luxury of working from home have said it has dramatically improved their work/life balance, others have lost the emotional and spontaneous connection they experience when they see a friendly face: no more having a laugh with colleagues while standing in line for lunch or chatting about the latest TV show.
Still, other research points to a positive impact of remote work — being able to work in your own environment, and popping out to your local cafe for lunch with family, friends or neighbors during your work day. Tracking Happiness, a company that measures how content people say they are, found people’s happiness increased 20% due to remote work.
The Tracking Happiness survey, carried out in April, polled 12,455 workers around the world. Almost twice as many men (65%) as women (34.5%) responded. Millennials were more likely to say their quality of life and, therefore, their contentedness had improved, with many citing the reduction in the time spent commuting every day.
The answer, as much as one exists, is to give people a balance, supporters of hybrid work say. That includes having social events where people can mingle and remind themselves that — maybe — office life wasn’t so bad, while maintaining informal check-ins in-person and on video platforms like Zoom
and Google Meet
to make sure people are doing OK.
Another important strategy: Be open and transparent about people’s mental-health challenges, and ensure executives and employees that there is company support to take time off for counseling, or even to rest and recharge. A recent study by the World Health Organization concluded that mental-health issues cost the global economy $1 trillion annually due to lost productivity.
In addition to mental-health services, a spokesperson for Coinbase told MarketWatch that the company has quarterly “geo-based stipends” for employees to build connections with colleagues both online and in real time. All employees have access to shared working spaces in Coinbase offices in a number of cities across the world and at WeWork venues.
“Others point to the lack of a grueling commute, being able to work in your own environment, and popping out to your local cafe for lunch with family, friends or neighbors during your work day. ”
Remote work is a luxury for many. Only 6.5% of workers in August teleworked specifically due to the pandemic, according to the latest jobs report, a decline from 7.1% in July. A Federal Reserve report released in May found that in late 2021, just 22% of people were working full-time from home (and 33% for those with at least a Bachelor’s degree).
Some companies have gone fully remote. Airbnb
launched a “live and work anywhere” program for its employees. With more cities instituting strict rules around short-term stays, the company clearly has a vested interest in leading by example and having its employees work from home. Shopify
Slack and Coinbase
have similar policies.
A large number of companies are allowing their employees to work on a hybrid schedule, meaning a few days a week at home and a few days a week in the office. They include Twitter
Facebook parent Meta
and, of course, Zoom — another company that obviously benefits from people working at least part of the time from home.
Younger people are more likely to be in need of mentorship, and they may have fewer familial responsibilities. Research has shown that women, particularly working mothers, are more likely to want to work from home. Others may have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes, or a person in their household who is at heightened risk.
“People are seeking a genuine connection with their colleagues — one that goes beyond the Hollywood Squares, transaction-style interactions felt in back-to-back Zoom meetings,” Camplejohn said.