Nearly all employees who are currently working from home prefer to keep doing just that, even when offices are open.
According to a survey conducted by Nyenrode Business University, Open University and Moneypenny, 97 per cent of all office workers wants to maintain a work-from-home mode, with 9 per cent preferring to work from home full-time, while 88 per cent would opt for a hybrid 50-50 model.
Missing real life contacts, both formal and informal, is still largely present but has not increased since last year, the researchers found.
In fact, an increasing number of employees is worried about the possible obligation of having to be physically present in the office again, especially to sit in on meetings.
Autonomy, competence and connection
A vast majority of employees who participated in the research said they were able to find a work pattern they are ‘okay’ with.
On average, they communicate about 4.5 hours per day digitally, even though the group of ‘bulk consumers’ is growing. 37 per cent of the employees who are working from home communicates 5 hours or more online on a daily basis.
In general, they are positive about the possibilities to meet briefly through means of digital communication.
The lack of ‘real’ contact is still seen by respondents as the main disadvantage of working from home, more than 75 per cent of respondents misses informal and face-to-face contact with colleagues, while 22 per cent feels outright isolated.
“From the three psychological basic human needs – autonomy, competence and connection – the latter is most under pressure when people work home for such a long period of time as during the corona crisis,” said Dr. Martine Coun, from the Open University.
“Employees who are working from home seem to accept the fact that going into the office is not an option right now and have developed work and communication patterns they resign in,” she added.
This is a significant change compared to the second lockdown, when Coun and her team saw social cohesion figures decline fast.
“Most people had managed working from home at that point, but the lack of contact put a strain on the cohesion within teams which was felt strongly,” she said, adding that “people also indicated to experience less work pleasure.”
Susan Smulders, homework expert at Moneypenny, added that “now we see a stabilization. We still miss each other, but it has not worsened in comparison to back in November.”
“In fact, work pleasure has even made some sort of a comeback. On the one hand this can be explained by the fact that we are ‘tired and done fighting’, but also because we see some light at the end of the tunnel,” Smulders pointed out.
Fear of having to be present
If it were up to the respondents, working from home remains a possibility, even when the office doors are wide open again.
To 88 per cent a hybrid form is seen as the ideal situation, where people can work from home for an average of 19 hours per week, about half of the number of work hours.
They also want to (co-) determine when they work from home and when they go into the office, for real life contact with colleagues among other things.
A large number does, however, expect that being physically present in the office will become an obligation again soon, rather than being a possibility. Especially the social pressure to join face-to-face meetings is feared.