In the wake of a global pandemic that has been traumatic and stressful, it’s hard to imagine what the office will look like in a post-COVID world. The transition to working from home has polarising views, and people are either dreading or eagerly anticipating a return to the office. While some workers are demanding to be back eight hours a day, five days a week, others are demanding more flexibility now that they know remote working can be done.
While the office-purists and remote-lovers hold polarising views, their preferences are rooted in similar reasons. Some find working in an office makes them more productive, while others find the solace of their own home more beneficial. Some prefer socialising with colleagues, while others just don’t. And a large reason, perhaps the biggest, is mental health.
Catching a break
For the more introverted amongst us, it’s easy to see why working from home is such a hoot. Internal communications got stripped down to its bare bones and socialising went out of the window. Water cooler breaks got replaced with catching up on chores like laundry and no longer did you have to endure your colleagues’ updates about their children/pets/houseplants.
This isn’t to say that it’s been all plain sailing. Introverted people are just as able to feel lonely and isolated as extroverts if they feel disconnected and alienated, and can actually benefit from mingling with colleagues and working on location, at least to a certain degree. But despite this, the return to the office is creating a significant amount of anxiety for those who’ve grown accustomed to the shift.
The flip side
For the more extroverted amongst us, working from home has been an annoyance at best and mentally taxing at worst. Extroverts thrive on socialising, love nailing every meeting, and relish face-to-face conversations. With that taken out of the work-life equation, they can find themselves isolated, unengaged, and lacking in productivity. The combined toll of losing interest in work and feeling alone can have detrimental impacts on their mental health. As such, a large portion is looking forward to returning to the office.
Where to next?
As we move towards a more open, post-COVID world, it’s important for employers to maintain their employees’ wellbeing and safety in all aspects. That includes mental health and wellbeing surrounding returning to the office too. But if a workforce has such wildly different needs as we’ve seen above, how do you accommodate them all?
Truth is, you can never get it perfect but you can get pretty close with hybrid working. It’s a blend of working from the office, from home, and from a different location – the third workplace. The third workplace allows employees to switch it up from time to time, choosing where they’d like to go that suits them – either a bustling coworking location or a quiet cafe tucked away in a museum.
For hybrid working, we recommend a 2-2-1 approach. That’s two days in the office, two at home, and one at a third location. But really, employees can mix it up however they feel. This relaxed approach allows for employees to find a rhythm and routine that suits their needs, whilst maintaining a strong degree of productivity and creativity.
Want to find out more about how your business can introduce hybrid working? Head over to our website to learn more about us and how we can help.
We’re not quite there yet in terms of being truly “post-pandemic”, but as we slowly crawl towards a semblance of normality, it begs the question: how does everyone feel about returning to the office?
Some offices are back to business, some are still staggering the amount of staff they have in, and some workplaces have opted not to forgo the office entirely. But whatever decision has been made about a workplace, not everyone will be happy about it. There’s a lot of conflicting opinions over working from home, and has revealed a, not an entirely unexpected, generational divide.
Millennials and Gen-Z
According to research, it’s millennials and zoomers who appear to be struggling the most with working from home. Yeah, we were surprised too. A study with 1000 participants revealed that zoomers were the most pro-office, with 8.1% having an actively negative experience with WFH. Millennials weren’t far behind at 7.4%. Another study corroborated this with 34% of zoomers stating that they found themselves to be their most productive when in the office.
So, what’s the reason?
Millennials, in their late twenties and thirties now, might have young families which proved to be particularly challenging when the stay at home orders were in place and children couldn’t attend school or nursery. However, despite these issues, millennials also like WFH options as it allows greater flexibility for childcare.
Zoomers and some younger millennials also struggle with noises and distractions at home, albeit for slightly different reasons. Shared accommodation is fairly common for these age brackets, meaning that they’re working alongside others who are either working from home themselves, or work on swing schedules that can be distracting.
Dealing with feelings of isolation was also a common problem experienced with younger generations while WFH. Socialising with colleagues, collaborating on group projects, and being mentored are all perks of office life, which younger workers are missing out on which could negatively impact their work and feeling satisfied. Newer workers also rely on positive feedback from mentors and colleagues to understand how they’re progressing, something that has fallen by the wayside during WFH and has negatively impacted confidence.
Of course, we can’t speak for everyone. Millennials and zoomers disproportionately make up the majority of freelancers and digital nomads; for them, going sans-office is just part of the job description. But for regular workers, it’s clear that the return to office life is a welcome one.
Boomers and Gen-X
And for the older generations? Despite early teething issues with technology (“You’re on mute, Barbara”) and getting used to the change, boomers and Gen-Xers have taken to the change like ducks to water and – also surprisingly – prefer it. In the same Hubble study, just 4.3% of boomers and Gen-Xers said they disliked working from home, with a staggering 71.7% saying they had a positive experience with it – 8% more than Gen-Z.
There’s no surprises why WFH is popular with them. After a couple of decades of waking up early and heading to work, it’s easy to see how they’d be, quite frankly, over it and relish the chance to not have to worry about getting to the office on time for a change. Unlike their younger colleagues, WFH also poses a lot less obstacles and distractions for them. Employees in these age brackets tend to have their own homes, some have room to spare for a converted office, any children will have grown up and moved on, and there’s no housemates to deal with. Their seniority also plays a part in being comfortable working away from the office. Having been in the workforce longer, they know what needs to be done and what is expected of them.
So, how do you keep everyone happy? It can be hard to find the perfect fit, but the best approach is flexibility. Giving employees the option to choose where they spend their working weeks and when they spend it allows for them to take control over their schedules and tasks, as well giving them a strong feeling of agency and trust. But some need to go beyond just the regular office and their homes, workers need extra stimulation and change too. The challenge is combining all of these aspects into one fluid working week.
We propose hybrid working. It’s a blend of working in the office, home, and another different location that can be anywhere an employee likes. This hybrid model ensures that everyone’s needs are met, while also inspiring change and creativity, creating a happier, more productive workforce.
Want to introduce a hybrid working model to your office? Why not support your employees with encouraging and funding remote working? Wise is a handy app that lets workers book pay-to-use spots in inspirational co-working locations across the country. Head to our FAQ for more.