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Work From Home Fatigue

Work From Home Fatigue

New Survey Shows – People want their office life back!

People’s ideal number of remote work days is slipping, according to a March survey. They feel less productive at home than a year ago. Even though the majority want flexibility in choosing when and where they work, a growing part of the workforce doesn’t want to work from home at all in the future.

“While working from home extensively, people feel stuck in an ‘endless day’ and they are losing the notion of time,” says Flore Pradere, Research Director, Global Corporate Research, JLL. “Employees are aspiring to more balanced working patterns.”

While work is likely to be far more flexible than before the pandemic, companies in recent months have been reckoning with exactly how they will implement hybrid structures to satisfy what both employees and companies require.

What employees say they require has changed over the course of the pandemic. In the JLL survey of 3,300 employees conducted in March, people said they want to work from home 1.5 days a week. This was down from 2 days in a similar JLL survey conducted last April.

Only 37% of the workforce now feels more productive at home than in the office, as opposed to 48% last year. And while 88% of respondents still want to choose their working hours, a third do not want to work from home at all.

In response to shifting sentiments, companies are trying to bring people back to the office to help spur the kind of innovative and collaborative thinking that happens in person, while keeping schedules loose. 

 

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What are Businesses Doing?

Depending on the industry you are in, the approaches can vary widely. For most banks, the growing consensus is that everyone ought to be back at their desks by Labor Day.  Goldman Sachs leadership wrote in a May staff memo “We are focused on progressing on our journey to gradually bring our people back together again, where it is safe to do so, and are now in a position to activate the next steps in our return to office strategy.”

Consumer product research and insights company Curion CEO Sean Bisceglia said “I am super passionate to get everyone back. What we are really missing is that creativity, and that spontaneity and the ingenuity and talking to your teammates face-to-face. The whole creativity has kind of been gutted without people being together. I’ve seen a big cultural effect of connecting to your co-workers.”

Featured in CNN Business, Chicago-based law firm Schoenberg Finkel Beederman Bell Glazer has had staff return to work over the past few months. Teams rotate coming in every other week. Some employees, including those in the accounting department and office management, come in every day.

“We thrive on being together, we are a friendly collegial group,” said Adam Glazer, a managing partner of the 50-person firm. “And we are at our best when everyone is here and available and functioning together as a team.”

“Although the work from home experiment during COVID was deemed successful, the long term mental health implications are still being understood,” says Cynthia Kantor, Chief Product Officer, Corporate Solutions, JLL. “What is clear is that over 75% of workers have missed being in the office at least part of the time and close to 80% of our clients prefer a hybrid approach. This is a very dynamic situation, and we are prepared to support our clients in any model they choose.”

 

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What’s The Best Route?

The sweet spot for feeling engaged, empowered and fulfilled – at least for most surveyed office workers – is working from the office at a minimum of three days per week. The survey showed that if employees are working from home more than two days a week, engagement starts to taper off, and anxiety about the future can start to increase.

“Achieving productivity at home is a tricky challenge,” Pradere says. “Highly productive homeworkers demand support and recognition.”

At the other end of the spectrum, less productive homeworkers can veer into feeling unfulfilled in their job. The office is key in offering them structure and a sense of purpose.

This is the challenge companies are confronting, says Kantor.

 

Winning the Talent War

 

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“While the notion of hybrid work is great in theory, putting it into practice is no small task,” she says. “But the companies that can keep employees engaged and committed are going to win the war for talent.”

It’s a war that never really went away, despite economic troubles in 2020. In the U.S., the unemployment level for skilled workers is falling.

Companies aiming to boost productivity in this new environment are considering workplaces that encourage and support different needs: socialization and collaboration, focused work, creative spaces for brainstorming, areas dedicated to learning and development, or spaces connected with nature.

 

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Some people will seek out the office as a quiet place to focus and concentrate because their homes might not be conducive to that. Others, especially younger workers new to the workplace, will be focused on engaging and networking with others.

“Finding the right mix will vary from one company to the other,” Kantor says. “The best workplaces are those created with input from employees.”

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THE KEY BLOG Read Blog New Survey Shows – People want their office life back! People’s ideal number of remote work days is slipping, according to a March survey. They feel less productive at home than a year ago. Even though the majority want flexibility in choosing when and where they work, a growing part […]

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