What does the future hold for office working?


It’s December 2019 and you’re just off to work, you hear reports on the radio about a virus in a place called Wuhan, “Seems very distant and won’t affect me”, you carry on to work. You celebrate Christmas and the New Year, it’s now January 2020 and life resumes as usual- eat, sleep, go to work, repeat.


It’s February 2020, you head off to work again, you hear reports on the radio as you travel in about the same virus in Italy, “That’s odd” you think, “How did it get there?! That won’t affect me, I’m not due to travel to Italy anytime soon”, though you remember your neighbour is skiing in France and that’s quite near to Italy… “Oh, this might affect us” …Fast forward to March and suddenly no one is shaking hands and washing their hands 20 times a day while singing ‘Happy Birthday’…The office is closed. “It’ll only be short term, we’ll see you in a few weeks, we can carry on working from home this won’t be an issue for long.”


It’s now August 2021 and you have been working from home since March 2020. This isn’t the ideal situation you thought working from home would be. You’ve had it up to here with video calls, you desperately want a coffee from the fancy coffee machine at work and you realise you miss the commute! You’re not alone, many have experienced both the positive and negatives sides to remote working…


Research, conducted by YouGov, surveyed 2,000+ office workers across the UK

Of those that are thriving in the new work environment:


  • 62 % of respondents said the increase in flexibility had helped them to focus more on work.
  • 55 % said their productivity levels were boosted due to the additional free time in their day.
  • 44 % said that they had fewer distractions at home.


-While 60 % of respondents said they have been able to access the software that they need to carry out their day-to-day duties. 24 % of newly remote workers said they couldn’t and were, therefore, unable to be productive from home at the beginning of the pandemic.

-Working Hours: Almost 40 % of respondents said that despite their new freedom they were working the same hours as normal, with a further 20 % working longer hours than they would in the office.

-Trust: 64 % of UK respondents said that they think that the perception of employees not doing enough work from home has improved.

-Virtual Meetings: Most UK respondents, many of whom are also adopting this technology to stay in touch with friends and family, said they were completely comfortable with virtual meetings, with just 5% saying they were not comfortable at all.


UK workers miss many elements of the traditional office environment and five things people miss the most about the office according to the job site, Indeed are: -


1. 50% miss their commute

A commute can provide a good transition between home and work life. However, on the plus side, nearly half (48%) of newly remote employees say they are using the time saved on commuting to catch up on sleep, while 35% reported they are now able to make more time for exercise and spend more time with their children.


2. 45% miss in-person meetings with their co-workers

Video conferencing platforms mean colleagues are still able to collaborate and communicate with each other, but for some, it can lead to miscommunication. Social cues like nuances in body language and tone of voice are an important part of team meetings, and they can be easier to read when you’re in the same physical space. If you work for a company that uses video conferencing substantially, you might also feel video conferencing fatigue.


3. 73% miss socializing in person

Before the global pandemic, many employed people spent half of their waking hours at work, so it’s only natural to miss the social interactions that come with a traditional workplace. When working remotely, a quick catch up with a colleague in the break room or after a long meeting isn’t possible (46% of respondents specifically said they miss the work-related side conversations that happen in the office). Spontaneous conversations are difficult to recreate virtually.


Many workers also reported that they feel more connected to their company’s culture when they are in an office that was designed to reflect the organisation’s mission and ideas. When employees look around, they can see how their role fits into the organisation, and they may be constantly reminded that their work is meaningful and valuable. There were also 10 % of people in the You.Gov poll who reported that they are missing the benefits provided by their company, such as free food and snacks and fitness classes!


4. 37% miss having a daily routine tied to going to the office

Working remotely causes a significant shift in routine. Although it can have its perks for some—such as the ability to work from the comfort of home and added flexibility to manage others’ schedules in your household—it can be hard to recreate the daily routine of going to work if you aren’t physically going anywhere. Having two distinct places and times for work and home makes it easier to separate the two each day.


5. 64% miss fewer distractions at the office compared to working from home

A lively office with lots of people can be distracting for some, but for others, home can be even more intrusive—be it from children or pets needing attention, outside noise in their neighbourhoods like construction noise or lawnmowers blaring, or housework like laundry or dirty dishes you can see out of the corner of your eye. Distractions are especially an issue for those in apartments, of which 30% reported being distracted by their neighbours—51% more than employees who live in single-family homes.


It remains to be seen what the future holds for working remotely or in the office. The hybrid approach has been adopted by many organisations since the lifting of restrictions, but it is still unknown, whether this shift will be permanent or if there will be a larger return to the office. One thing that we all seem to have learnt during this challenging time is…Humans are social beings and 'No man is an island'!




For more information, call MASS on 0118 977 8560 or email us at info@mass-plc.com

(Image by Alexis Antonio on Unsplash)


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